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tail·gate par·ty [ táyl gàyt ] Definition: Noun. A social gathering before a sports event held in a parking lot outside the stadium with vehicles and the adjoining space used for picnicking, barbecuing, and other activities. [1]

What Is Tailgating?


Fans of a particular sport get together before the event in the parking lot or other designated area and enjoy food and games before the game or race. Some fans even compete with fans of the other team for the best food, most team spirit, team logo decorations or parking lot game. Concerts are rapidly becoming the latest venue for a tailgating party.

The true origin of tailgating is debatable. Several places claim the to be the original creators of the concept of tailgating. Necessity being the mother of invention, it probably started with a picnic basket and developed from there.

1869 - The very first football game ever played between Rutgers and Princeton. Fans traveled to the game by carriage, grilling sausages and burgers before the game.

1881 - The first college football game south of the Mason-Dixon Line, at Old Stoll Field in Lexington, Kentucky, for the University of Kentucky. In those days it was customary for the fans of each team to engage in a wild fish and game supper before the contest and then to revisit the leftovers after the game. [2]

1904 - Yale. A train brought fans to a Yale game. The fans had to walk the distance to the stadium. A picnic hamper of food was brought along for the game.

1919 - Some claim that tailgating started in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1919, when the Packers were first formed. The farmers would back their pickup trucks around the edge of an open field, drop their tailgates to sit on and eat a prepared basket of food while they watched the team play. That's where the term Tailgate came from.

Tailgating Trivia


While tailgating is usually associated with professional or college football, tailgating extends across the athletic spectrum! Other sports gaining popularity with tailgaters include NASCAR, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Gatherings in driveways are popular for Fantasy Footballers, and are fun before and after televised games, as well! Tailgating isn't limited to sporting events, however. Concert goers see tailgating as a festive way to extend the evening's entertainment.

Best Tailgate Teams

NFL Football College Football
  1. Green Bay - Lambeau Field
  2. Kansas City - Arrow Head Stadium
  3. Cleveland - Cleveland Browns Stadium
  4. Pittsburgh - Heinz Field
  5. Denver - Invesco Field [3]
  1. LSU Tigers
  2. Ole Miss Rebels
  3. Tennessee Volunteers
  4. Washington Huskies
  5. Penn State Nittany Lions [4]

Types of Tailgaters

  • The Hardcore Fan - Follows the team to every game.
  • Budget Tailgater - Usually students, but includes all those with limited resources.
  • High Tech Tailgater - Needs to have the latest gadgets.

Types of Tailgating

Pickup Trucks - the traditional tailgate
Backyard Tailgating
RV Tailgating
Tailgating on Water
Kosher Tailgating
Concert Tailgating


Tailgate Party Games


With lots of time to fill before the big game starts, a good game can help keep everyone amused and have some fun. Tailgategames.net has a great selection of games you can order online.

  • Family Friendly Games - Games everyone can play. Typical tailgate games include the corn hole toss, and ladder golf, but can also include lawn games like croquet.
  • Adult Oriented Games - Games that include advanced sports trivia, drinking, or betting activities are always popular. Beer pong is popular, and a football pool is a must-have.

Tailgating Table and Supplies


As with any outing that involves food, careful planning and safe food handling are a must. Plan ahead, make a list, and invite your friends to help split the work and the costs - but most important of all - have fun! Don't forget to bring paper products and serving ware. Sports themed tailgating should be casual fare, such as brats, burgers - even chili. And don't forget the beer! If you're energetic, pre-made cocktails with a related theme can add to the festive atmosphere. Serious tailgaters would be wise to invest in stadium seats, tents, grills, portable tables and all-sorts of team related decor and tableware. For more cultural events, a formal menu, tableware and finer linens would be apropos for the occasion.

Related Links


  1. Encarta® World English Dictionary - Tailgate Party
  2. Tailgating.com - Tailgating…The Colorful History of America’s Biggest Sporting Pastime
  3. Bed and Breakfast Netowrk.com - Top 5 Best Football Tailgating Cities
  4. ESPN.com - Road Warrior: Best College Tailgating