You’ve got your tickets to the next NFL or NCAA game; you’ve got your facepaint on and your blanket emblazoned with the team logo is washed; and your car’s windows have your team’s name and your favorite player’s number scrawled on them. That’s right, it’s game day, and you are ready! But you’re not really ready unless you have a game plan for the pre-game tailgate party. After all, this traditional parking lot party before every sports game is half the fun of attending.
So to make sure you pull it off right, here’s our advice for a perfect tailgate party:
1. Go early. If you do everything else right, there really is no bad spot for a tailgate party, but to avoid a three-mile hike before and after the game, get to the stadium early and get a good spot.
2. Don’t be a space hog. You’re not the only one psyched and ready to party. Be considerate, and don’t take up more room than you need. Having to deal with some drunk knucklehead who’s ticked off that you took up more than your share of parking spots is a crummy way to start - or end - the day.
3. Check the weather. While the local news is only right about the weather about 30% of the time, still check to see what’s expected for the day. Then plan accordingly. If it's still hot out, battery operated fans and shading umbrellas will help keep everyone comfortable. Later in the season as it starts to get cold, bring blankets. And remember sunscreen for tailgate partying in the sun.
4. Bring plenty. Make sure you have plenty of chairs for everyone in your party and a couple extra if you have the room. You might see a friend - or make a new one - at the game, and it’s always nice to be able to offer a chair without kicking someone out of theirs. Most importantly, though, make sure you bring plenty of food! The greatest part of tailgating, besides being around friends and fans, is the food. So bring enough for your group, and then some - for the same reason as the chairs. To help out with this part and make you the hit of the parking lot, here’s a great burger recipe:
Bison Bacon Cheeseburgers
6 slices thick, smoked bacon (about 6 ounces)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 medium jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground bison meat
6 thin slices Swiss cheese (about 3 1/4 ounces)
6 toasted burger buns
1/2 medium Hass avocado, sliced just before serving
1. Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the middle. Place a cooling rack inside a baking sheet and set aside.
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside; do not discard bacon fat (you should have about 2 tablespoons). Return the pan to medium heat, add onion and jalapeños, and cook in reserved bacon fat until soft and starting to color, about 4 minutes; set aside.
3. Mix together Worcestershire, garlic, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until egg is broken up. Add bison meat and mix until thoroughly combined.
4. Shape meat mixture into 6 (3/4-cup) patties and place on the rack inside the baking sheet. Broil until browned and springy to the touch, about 10 minutes for medium. Place cheese on top of patties and cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute.
5. To serve, place cheeseburgers on buns and top with bacon, avocado slices, and sautéed onion mixture.
The most important rule…
More than anything else, have fun! You buy tickets to sports events because you want to have fun, and that’s why you tailgate too. So enjoy the day and be thankful that, win or lose, you were there!