Tailgating isn’t about the game, the food or the cold beverages; it’s about the people.
Tom Hoover, Kansas State University alum, said keeping people happy during a tailgate is what matters most.
But “feeding them and providing them drink tends to provide that,” he said as he prepared an impressive spread Saturday in the parking lot at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Hoover grilled rib-eye steak sandwiches before the game to feed a group of friends gathered under a tent at the back of his pickup.
Hoover said in previous years he has also brought a gas-powered blender for margaritas, but decided to leave it home this year. Still, refreshments were clearly an important component of a good party for Hoover, who said he tailgates at every home game.
But what else does one need for a great tailgate?
Parties large and small on Saturday were spread across the parking lot at the stadium and for acres nearby. People were smiling, laughing and having a good time prior to the start of the game against Baylor.
Many tailgaters brought purple vehicles as evidence of their Wildcat pride. They drove purple minibuses and RVs to carry their food, friends and amenities.
Jerod Heiman, K-State alum, said he was among the first fans to tailgate at Wildcat football games in the ‘80s.
“We used to tailgate when this was still a dirt parking lot,” he said. “We were one of the first to have a purple vehicle, but not this one.”
Nowadays, he and a friend bring a camper called the “K-State War Wagon” that’s been decked out for games.
They chose an RV rather than a bus because of the bathroom inside. He said they stay in the parking lot and watch the game on their big-screen TV with friends who are Sigma Nu alumni.
“This is the un-official Sigma Nu tailgate,” Heiman said. “It is a way for us to come together every year and catch up.”
He said they bring the War Wagon to every home game and try to make it to at least one away game every year.
Extended families also use tailgating as a way to connect.
Julie Poyser, K-State alum and Manhattan resident, said her family members got together to create the perfect tailgate. Her branch of the family provides all the food and a minibus decked out in K-State purple, while her brother’s family provides the RV parking space.
She said she didn’t know the exact amount it costs to rent an RV parking space, but thought it required a significant donation to the alumni association.
“I think I got the better end of the deal,” she said.
The family didn’t bring a grill, but the Poysers had homemade sweet treats, cheese and crackers, salad, deviled eggs, pretzels and drinks.
In addition, they had a big-screen TV for watching the highlights at half-time. Poyser said this was the first year they brought the TV, and it was mainly to keep her two sons from getting bored and leaving.
So according to these fans, the best tailgate parties include a purple vehicle, a big-screen TV, friends and family members, good refreshments and a bathroom.
But Hoover said it seems like no matter what they do, there’s always something that’s forgotten or left behind.
“I’d say there’s really no perfect tailgate,” Hoover said. “There’s always something, but that’s part of the fun,” Hoover said.