A cajun tailgate in Baton Rouge

Welcome to the 9th stop on the Tailgating Tour, LSU. I was in Baton Rouge on November 6th, 2010, when Alabama came to town. LSU and Alabama are huge rivals and I was expecting LSU tailgating to be at its best for this match up. The game was originally scheduled for 7pm, but CBS wanted to televise it as their mid day game. This resulted in a kickoff change to 2:30. LSU usually plays all their home games at night, but when the payers of those enormous TV contracts want to change the game, well money talks. Regardless of this change in schedule, I was incredibly impressed with what I found in Baton Rouge. In my travels this fall, LSU has built quite the reputation for their tailgating. Would they live up to this reputation?  I arrived in Baton Rouge on Friday before the game. Upon arrival, I stopped by campus and could already see the signs of tailgaters. People’s tents were set up and their trailers were parked. The serious tailgaters had claimed their spots and were ready for Saturday’s festivities.

With the game being moved from 7 to 2:30 I decided I should get there before 7. Notice how cold it was! Yes, it was 37 degrees outside when I got to the tailgate area. This was my first time ever visiting Louisiana, and let me tell you, I was not expecting frost on the windshield. When arriving before the sun was up, I was not expecting to see people already cooking and tailgating. Obviously this was my first time tailgating at LSU. Fans take their tailgating food very seriously. Those boxes you see with the fire on top, yes they did keep you warm on that frosty November morning, but it is what is inside you will want to pay attention to. I will talk more about the boxes in greater detail later, but the big one had a pig in it and the small one had a turducken. This group of tailgaters were set up right across from where I parked. Their group name was the “Predawn Tailgatin’ Tigers Louisiana”. Their name was fitting. They had arrived at 4:15 am! I thought rolling in at 6:45am was early, but this tailgating group was fixing up their second breakfast when I arrived. As the sun rose it brought out the tailgaters. The once bare metal tent frames were now covered in purple and cold. With the tent covers on and the fires lit, fans were ready for their tailgating to begin. LSU and Alabama fans might not agree on much when it comes to what happens on the field, but one they thing that they did agree on was that is was freezing that morning. It eventually warmed up to the mid 60s, but at 7am a fire on the side walk was a great idea. As I walked around on game day, I noticed many things about LSU tailgating. The first was the abundance of tailgating groups. I have seen tailgating groups in many of the places I have visited this year, but at LSU it seemed that everyone was on a group. It was rare to find a tailgating tent with out a group trailer or tent. The trailers went from simple white with text all the way to full color graphics. Some groups had custom cups, while others had custom koozies. Some group’s names were in reference to family names of things to do with LSU football, but my favorite names were those that had to do with where they tailgated on campus. Isle of the Tiger tailgated on a traffic island in the middle of the road. Hence the name Isle of the Tiger. I talked with the person who runs this tailgate about how he got such a unique space. He has been tailgating in that location for many years. As a student it started out with a small tent and a boom box. As most tailgates do, his grew in size every year. It has been several years since he was a student, but still tailgates in that same spot. I asked him if the spot was assigned? The spots on campus are all first come first serve. You mark you territory the night before. After 5pm you can bring your tents and trailers onto campus. The first home game of the year is where you stake you claim for the rest of the season. Because of this, the head of Isle of the Tiger always takes off work the Friday before the first home game, to make sure he gets his spot. Using vacation time for tailgating, now that is dedication. Tiger Tailgatin’ at the Cleavage always sets up between the two Indian burial grounds on campus. I don’t think I need to explain to you why its called “Tiger Tailgatin’ at the Cleavage” when the sub text is “Saturday night between the mounds”. LSU was the first place where the majority of the tailgating was done on campus. Let me clarify, by on campus I mean that fans set up their tailgates directly on school buildings. More on this tailgate later, but I spent a large part of the day on the lawn in front of the Electrical Engineering building. All around campus, tents are were up in front of academic and administrative buildings. It was a pretty easy way to tell people where you are set up at. I guess I blended in because I was asked where several buildings were. Unfortunately this was my first trip to LSU’s campus and I was just as clueless as the person asking. With a large portion of the tailgating occurring at university buildings, the administration distributes these large yellow trash cans for tailgates to use. Yellow and Purple tents with larges groups huddled around them covered the LSU campus. Sites like above were found everywhere you walked. There was another tailgating option if you wanted something a little bit bigger than just a tent. You could go the RV Route. I have seen RVs at almost every tailgate that I have been to, but in Baton Rouge there was one of the more impressive RV scenes I have come across. There were dozens of RVs lining the road next to the stadium, but that was only the beginning. If you were to continue to walk away from the stadium towards campus you would come across an enormous RV city with hundreds of RVs parked. The RV city was a party all in itself. Every RV that you passed had something great cooking along with a TV to watch the other games on. Throughout the day, I walked all over campus and the RV Parks. Throughout the day I discovered many things you should know about LSU tailagting. Lets start with what to wear. The main fashion rule in Baton rouge was you must wear purple, gold, or both. Some fans dressed up with collared shirts and these lovely pants… Jerseys and camo were a very common site… There were of course some who went with the costume look… Like most college games, the T-shirt is very popular. The cajun way to spell Go is Geaux, so in Baton Rouge every Go is spelled the cajun way. A little back story about LSU and Alabama. Alabama and LSU are both in the SEC West and have some history between each other. For those of you who are unaware, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban used to coach at LSU. Not only did he coach there, but he won a national title in 2003. In 2005 Saban left the Tigers to coach in the NFL. After two seasons in the NFL, Saban returned to the college game, but this time for the hated rival Alabama. I don’t know Mr. Saban, so I can’t tell you his reasons for leaving to go to the NFL, but LSU fans feel it was for the higher paycheck. I think these T-shirts that I saw expres some of the fan’s attitudes towards him. There were a lot more of these shirts, but these were some of my favorites, and really some were to bad to post online. Another thing to know about game day in Baton Rouge is that their mascot is Mike the Tiger. Mike the Tiger is a real tiger. Let me repeat that, LSU has a real live tiger as their mascot. Mike VI lives in a multi million dollar complex across the street from Tiger Stadium and is cared for by LSU’s Vet school. On any day but game day, you can see Mike in his habitat. On game day he has special duties to preform. Similar to the Vol Walk at Tennessee and the Walk of Champions at Ole Miss, the LSU players and coaches walk to the stadium. A few minutes after the players and coaches passed by, the cheerleaders were out! After the cheerleaders, Mike makes an appearance on his way to do a lap of the stadium. Look closely and you can see him laying down. After the band made its way through, fans started to enter the stadium. And now for what you have all been waiting for…. THE FOOD! I had high expectations for the food at LSU. In researching and talking with other tailgaters, LSU had built quite the reputation for itself. Fortunately for me, it did not disappoint. Lets start with breakfast. I have seen eggs cooked at a tailgate before, but never like this! An omelette made in a plastic bag! Just take 2 eggs and ingredients of your choosing and smush them up in a plastic bag. Remove the air and close the bag. After a few minutes in boiling water you have created This perfectly cooked breakfast omelette! Cleanup is to just throw away the bag. This is by far one of the coolest thing I have seen for breakfast. Thanks to Scott and his awesome tailgate for showing me this really cool way to make an omelette.  Breakfast was not the only great food I found. Remember those wooden boxes with the fire on top of them? Well they are not just o keep you warm. They are called “cajun microwaves” and are used to make a cochon de lait. A what? Yes that was my reaction when told what was cooking. A cochon de lait is simply a suckling pig. Anything that involves cooking pork immediately has my attention. You can uses the cajun microwave for many other types of meat, but for the Alabama game, a cochon de lait was most popular.  Remember how LSU was playing Alabama? Well Alabama’s mascot is Al the Elephant. These LSU fans made their cochon de lait look like an elephant! Incredibly creative. Even Alabama fans would stop and admit how creative this was. Whether shaped like an elephant or not, the cochon de lait was absolutely amazing. For a majority of the morning I had the pleasure of tailgating with Jay Ducote. Jay is an LSU alum and a master behind the grill. His tailgate was the one at the Electrical Engineering building. In his college years, he and some of his friends built one of the coolest grills I have ever seen. With a little welding they transformed an ordinary keg into an awesome tailgating machine! Not only does this have a keg converted grill, but there is smaller keg turned smoker! Perfect for ribs, chicken, brisket, whatever you want! When Jay and his friends take the grill to away games they have even smoked a turkey while driving. At stoplights they would get out and quickly add a little more charcoal. Incorporating your grilling and traveling to the game is tailgating efficiency at its finest.

Jay’s keg grill was not just cool looking, but it also cooked up some amazing food. Like some very hot chicken wings.

What about delicious ribs?

I first saw the bacon explosion in Tennessee, but it would not be the last. It made a return appearance at LSU. As I continued to explore the tailgating seen at LSU I saw many foods I had not yet encountered.

Fresh crabs from Lake Pontchartrain anyone? This tailgating group had quite the spread. Similar to the salmon picking I saw in Washington, these tailgaters just gathered around the table and picked those delicious crustaceans apart.

Gumbo anyone? With this being cajun country, gumbo was a very common tailgating food.There was one tailgate that had quite the menu.

Jambalaya with white beans…

Fried Alligator….

and frog legs! The chef making these caught the frogs and the alligator himself. I didn’t ask how he got the gator, there are just some things I don’t want to know.

There was also fried shrimp and seafood pies. This was pretty much a plate of cajun cuisine at its finest. LSU’s food lived up to its reputation. I am sure there are a lot of other amazing dishes that I was unable to try. After all the LSU campus is quite large, and I am just one guy tailgating, but this should give you an idea of what was there. If only you could smell through you computer screen. The smell as you walked past these outdoor tailgating kitchens was amazing! This was my first time to Louisiana and I am already thinking about a return trip to learn more about the cuisine.

In walking around I found some very spirited dogs..

lots of cornhole and…

plenty of beer pong.

The attitudes toward Nick Saban didn’t stop at the T shirts. This little voodoo doll expresses this LSU fan’s opinion about him. Of course I had to get a picture in front of Tiger Stadium.

When the game started there were 92,000 or so people inside Tiger Stadium.

and thousands of more outside watching the game!

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with what I found at LSU. With this being the 9th stop on the tour, the expectations of what I would see were quite high. These expectations were exceeded in what I found. Thanks again to Jay, Scott, and everyone else I met while tailgating in Baton Rouge. I can’t wait to tailgate again at Tiger Stadium this weekend.

This weekend I am headed to Auburn for stop #10 on the tour. The Auburn Tigers are one of the best teams on the field, but how will they stack up in their pregame activities? Stop bye next week to find out.

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Comments

  1. says

    The food is making my mouth water! If you go back for food you should make it to the the heart of Cajun country Lafayette (where I’m from) and New Orleans to round it out! Check out Swamp people if you want to see how they catch the alligators, not something I eat. You can always go do a swamp tour on an airboat. I’ve heard it’s a cool experience and you can get great photos out of it.

    Are you going to rank the schools after you’re done? I’m curious how they rank.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Marg! I definitely want to make it down to Louisiana soon, so much great food to still explore. As far as ranking the teams I am going to do a fan poll on my blog at the end of the tour and let readers vote on which is best. I am writing a book on the tour and my rankings will be found in that. Thanks for the comment!

  2. says

    OOOH, I’ve been following your blog for a while – I just couldn’t wait for you to come down! All the other tailgates look fun, but I knew they had NOTHING on LSU. Yes! You’ll definitely have to come down again soon!

  3. says

    Wow! Absolutely love your take on Tiger Tailgatin’! We were from PreDawn Tailgatin’ Tigers and were working on our 2nd breakfast by the time you got there at 6:45. In a word – Awsome! Thanks for taking part in our experience and look forward to following you around the country for the rest of the season.

  4. Monica McJunkin says

    Taylor,
    I am very proud to say that you have truly captured the experience at LSU on gameday! I hope you had a wonderful time and come back soon! As we say….GEAUX TIGERS!

  5. crosby says

    if only you were a boy scout you wold have known the omelette in the bag by age ten
    other than that everything looks delicious!

  6. says

    I can’t tell you how many memories this post has brought up for me. I agree with Monica- you really captured the essence of LSU on game day. Not only did you manage to pick up on some of the fantastic rivalry gear and the reasons behind it, the pictures of the food have me missing home even more (I grew up just outside of Baton Rouge and went to LSU). Thank you for the trip back home… through the internet. :)

  7. Kimberly says

    Thank for the trip home!! I live north of Seattle and my young family of six are Washington Husky tailgators. I enjoyed the post on UW tailgating, but it holds nothing to a LSU tailgating experience. Growing up in Louisiana and being a die hard LSU fan created moans and groans just looking at the food and experience! We can’t wait for UW to travel to LSU in 2012 . . . we’ll be there . . . wearing our purple and gold in a house divided . . . a UW house with an LSU mama that has brainwashed 4 kids! Can’t wait for your next stop in Auburn! I completed my master’s degree there and they start tailgating for some games on Wednesday! Will be anxious to see your photos and comments. Enjoy the rest of the season! Geaux Tigers!

  8. geauxgrrl says

    Wish you would have visited our tailgate at the Ole Miss game. We had seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, boudin balls, BBQ brisket, and all the trimmings! Come on back & have some great food and some adult beverages! Geaux Tigers!

  9. Jerry Bourgeois says

    FANTASTIC BLOG!! This makes me want to move back to my “roots”. I was born in N.O. near the French Quarter. I’ve resided in Phoenix since ’68 and graduated from ASU in ’73. I only wish ASU had the fan support and team spirit that ya’ll at LSU have. My school has a lousy football team and my state pro football team, the Cardinals is lousy also now that Kurt Warner retired. I truly pull for LSU unless they play ASU and I pull for the SAINTS at all times!! Drew is a great guy and has done so much for the area since Katrina.
    It does amaze me however how anyone lives past the age of 50 with all that cajun food that is consumed. What a way to die though……Fantastic!!
    GEAUX TIGERS AND SAINTS!!!!!

  10. whitney green says

    This was awesome! I want to purchase that T-shirt that says “TrAitor Hater.” There is no stadium, nor tailgating I have ever been to that holds a candle to the LSU experience. Tiger Stadium is a magical place to geaux to when you are a child, much like Disney World; well that’s what I used to think of it as, when I was a little girl. My Grandfather started our wonderful family tradition at LSU, because he wanted us to see how Amazing everything at LSU was for him. Every year my grandparents would take my parents, aunts and uncles, nine of my cousins and my brother and I to games at LSU. We would always stay on campus at Pleasant Hall. We would throw the football on the Parade grounds, go down and see Mike the Tiger in his den, and always race to the top of the Indian Mounds. The culture and the loyalty of Louisianians is unique, and comparable to nothing else. Now that I am a grown woman, I still see Tiger Stadium through a child’s eyes; magical place.

  11. tigerfaninNOLA says

    Great work Taylor. It’s hard work explaining the scene in Baton Rouge on a game day and your pictures and commentary did a great job.

    I don’t miss many games, but like some of the others that have commented, I still see Tiger Stadium through the eyes of a child. I can still remember walking around campus with my Dad (just like he’s done in the 40′s w his Dad) and being in awe of the sights, sounds, and SMELLS of campus. I can remember when students still lived in the stadium (was used as a dorm until 80′s….could be wrong but pretty sure the dorm aspect is what allowed then Gov. Huey Long to convince the legislature to build Tiger Stadium….thx Gov!!). I can remember the older lady that sat above us in the S. Endzone that hadn’t missed a game in decades and struggled like hell every Sat to get to her seat because of her age, the old men from “down the bayou” that sat in front of us and smoked pipes and spoke only cajun french to one another, the unbelievably loud guy from New Orleans above us that would scream until the 4th quarter when his voice was shot (amazingly never remember in all of his ranting and raving him ever slipping up and saying one cuss word), and most of all I remember this……the joy on my Dad’s face as he watched his two boys become absolutely and forever sucked into the passion of LSU Football and the magic of Tiger Stadium. There are great stadiums and “scenes” all over America on a Saturday in the Fall, but none of them compare to what we have. I’ve seen a bunch of them, but when it’s Saturday night in Tiger Stadium for a big game I often look around in between plays and just soak it all in. Even though I’ve gotten to experience it for the better part of the last 30 years, it still raises the hair on the back of my neck. My son will get to go to his 1st game next year and the picture that I’ll take of 3 generations of Tiger Fans will be something that will be treasured for years and years…….GEAUX TIGERS!!!!!

  12. says

    Thanks for coming down to Baton Rouge. You couldn’t have been here for a better game.

    We’ve been tailgating between the mounds for years. It’s a great spot right by the stadium. Most of us watch the game at the tailgate.

    A few years ago, before my second child was born, I actually started an LSU tailgating website. It was so much fun going around for each home game to see what other groups did at their tailgate. I wish I still had time to do it.

    You can see the content that I captured for one season at http://thetigerblog.com.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. says

    Thanks for the comments everyone, I am so glad that you enjoyed the post. I had a great time in Baton Rouge, and I can’t wait to visit again!

    - Taylor

    • says

      Taylor…what a great idea! Sure hope your book will be a success. I have no doubt! I am from Baton Rouge and attended LSU. Have lived in Augusta, GA for thirty years. I own a catering company, The Baton Rouge Chef, Inc. I never miss an LSU game on television. There is nothing like it. Tailgate food is fabulous, games are thrilling, stadium is beautiful and the fans…well, what can I say….THE BEST! I have enjoyed preparing creole food for the people of central Georgia so much…in fact am preparing crawfish stuffed mushrooms this evening, along with duck gumbo, deer sausage, smoked pork tenderloins, dirty rice, crab sardou, creme caramel custards creole pralines, etc., for a party I will be catering this weekend. Let me know if you visit UGA in Athens. My sons are graduates and love to tailgate.
      Jane Harmon, The Baton Rouge Chef,Inc., Evans, Georgia

    • Bobby D says

      Taylor, Thank you for showing all the fun stuff that goes on at Tiger stadium before a football game. This is what i love about living in louisiana, the good food and great people that live here. How they can make a party out of any event and do it top notch. Plus to let most people who are interested in joining in and wanting to be part of the going on of the great south. … Laisser les bons temps rouler.

  14. says

    Taylor, Thanks for the wonderful pictures of LSU tailgating and LSU spirit for our Tigers!! I’m 75 and living in Jackson, Ms but neither age nor location keeps me from being a Tiger Fan.When I was 8 years old I started going to LSU games with my family. My aunt had a resteraunt on Chimes Street, she employed student as waiters and paid them with meals. We could walk to the Stadium. It was great fun. I continued to go to games until 1986 when we had to begin to travel for my husbands work. I wound up in Jackson 14 years ago but still follow my Tigers on TV. (Sorry, I probably told you more than you wanted to know.) Anyway Thanks for your great coverage of LSU tailgatein and SPIRIT!!

  15. Todd Richards says

    Living in Omaha (and yes, I’m a Nebraska fan), we have seen over and over during the College World Series the love that LSU fans share for their teams – and their tailgating. Having been invited several times to come to their “turf” and see how things were done, we were finally able to make it happen. It just so happened it was for the LSU vs Bama game. And we were not disappointed. What a great atmosphere. It was hard to explain to people at home what the tailgating scene was like. And to top if off with an amazing football game was the icing on the cake. We certainly hope to go back again some day.

    Great job on telling the story. I think you summed things up pretty well!!!!

  16. Suzanne says

    Thanks for the pictures I have not been in several years, but I don’t miss a game on TV/radio. Wonderful pictures…..

  17. Karen LeMoine Pitre says

    Love my Louisiana! Thanks for capturing 2010 for my memories. I’ve been there and done that! We’ll look back at the fashions & the captions as time goes by!

  18. says

    I liked the photo’s. I can truly identify with the fun and spirit of the day as we do the very same for the University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun games in Lafayette. Our tailgating spots have been sold out with a waiting list for the past 4 years. The day is blessed with Great Food, Super Music combined with the greatest ingredient of all….the people of south Louisiana in the heart of Cajun Country….LAFAYETTE, LA.

  19. Paul Vincent says

    You captured the moment perfectly. My son and two grandson’s were also having a great time during their tailgate. I do believe that you captured my grandson Jamie in one of your photos. Thanks so much for the experience and look forward to your book on tailgating. Next year LSU has decided to charge additional fees for parking and I was about to give up on tailgating, but your pictures have changed my mind.

    Paul Vincent

    • Paul Miller says

      If your nic name is Toddy, I would love to hear from you. About 45 years ago I worked with a Toddy Vincent in Shreveport, La. Years later, I visited with Toddy in his home in Baton Rouge and lost contact after that. Let me hear from you please.
      Paul

  20. Mike C says

    Taylor,

    great job, from a Tiger alum now living in North Louisiana. I am in the food business and your food photography is some of the best i’ve ever seen or paid to have done:)
    this was my first trip to your blog, forwarded to me from a Tulane alum, i look forward to future reads.
    Merry Christmas,
    Mike

  21. Sally says

    I only hope that you will catch another game, a big game, at night. You really just got 1/2 of the show. But You made me homesick either way!

  22. Mike K. says

    Living in California I still have on my “bucket list” to take my son to an LSU football game. I can still remember the experience 35 years later. Thank you for putting this together.

  23. tom says

    Great pictures..we were there too and I see from your shots you were very near to us..we’re off Tower drive behind Sturgis Hall and have been for 6 years..Unfortunately you probably have the last great pics of a tradition that has been killed by the athletic dept…starting next year there will be a game by game charge of 40 bucks per car and 50 per trailer…you cant pay the fee before friday pm the day before the game although you can pay beginning 5 a.m. on game day…cost aside this arrangement makes the logistics of assembling even a modest group of tailgaters daunting.as no one knows for sure who will be able to park or not..this is especially difficult for those of us with out of state or out of town friends…so enjoy your pictures they may be collectors’ items as greed has destroyed the tradition you captured so expertly…

  24. Brock says

    Taylor, we would be glad to convert you to an honorary coonass! I’m glad to see you had a good time and you’re welcome back anytime. Just where purple and gold so you don’t get a Tiger Bait! I loved your pics.

  25. Mike McGrath says

    This makes me really homesick. I was born in BR in 1959, and a student there in the late 70′s. The football wasn’t as good then, but the atmosphere surely was! I hope to retire in a few years, and when I do, I plan to be a full participant in all of these activities!

  26. Rich LeBlanc says

    I am graduate of LSU (1960 and 64)…Chinese Bandits, Paul Deitzel (sp), national champs, etc…I live in Holland, Michigan, and four couples and we have been going to a football game a year for twenty years (all Big Ten, ND, Navy, Pitt, WVA, Buffalo, etc). I told my group there is nothing like an LSU football game in BR. The group has pushed me to go. We are going to see the LSU/Kentucky game on Oct. 1, 2011. Hope we can get tickets. Regardless, we will be tailgating that night, and hoping to see the game.

    Geaux, Tigers.

  27. says

    Taylor,
    You did an amazing job! The only thing better than a day game in Tiger Stadium is a night game. You won’t hear a louder roar than when the announcer comments on the time of day in Death Valley! We aren’t huge fams of CBS down here because they keep moving our night games to day games. I personally am not a fan simply because I sit on the side of the stadium that gets the most sun. Anyway, I’ve been to most of the SEC schools, University of Washington, and Texas schools to catch a game and I can honestly say no one compares to LSU.

  28. says

    I am a Georgia Bulldog, BS Phar/66, and have never been to a venue of such assholes as I found in Baton Rouge.
    I was purposefully “Chest-Bumped” twice by two purple clad such ass wipes..We have great Tail Gating in Athens, and we do not treat visiting opponets except with tolerant courtesy. The only good thing about the trip was The Dawgs kicked the Pussies ass by 30 points!

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