Ole Miss tailgating: Might not always win the game, but will always win the party!

I have had my Big Bad Breakfast and my catfish dinner from Taylor’s, so now it is time to bring you  what I drove 1,150 miles round trip for; Game Day at the Grove. I had always heard that tailgating was legendary in the Grove and after this past weekend, I can see why.

Let me start by explaining what the Grove is. It is a this large green space on the Ole Miss campus that transforms overnight into a tent city. Years ago people would bring their cars out onto the Grove and tailgate there, but these days there are some strict rules if you want to party on the grove. I arrived Friday and was able to capture the Grove before it was transformed.

You can’t set up your tent until 10pm on Friday night. It is a first come first served on where to place your tent.

After leaving Friday, I really had no idea what to expect the following day.

Over night a sea of red, white, and blue tents had filled the once wide open green space. On Friday I could not distinguish any traffic lanes or sense of organization to the Grove, but on Saturday morning the complete opposite existed. There were clear walking lanes between the tents. Anything that was not between spray painted lanes was fair game to be occupied by a tent. I arrived to the grove around 8:45 in the morning. Even though it was 5 hours prior to kickoff there were plenty of people already setting up their tents.

Tailgating in the Grove is not just a simple tailgate. Tents in the Grove are equipped with all the comforts of home. Most have TVs hooked up to Direct TV with a dozen or so lawn chairs surrounding them. There are large picnic tables decorated with fresh flowers and beautiful table settings. This wins the award for the coolest tent that I came across.

The building is a replica of the Lyceum ( a famous building on the Ole Miss campus). This TV cabinet is not only beautiful, but incredibly practical. Other than the obvious of watching 4 separate games at once, those pillars each contain 3 gallons of your choice of beverage. I thought this was incredibly creative!

A tent would not be complete without food! The food at Ole Miss is not your typical tailgating fare.

There are no open flames, gasoline, or propane allowed in the Grove. This eliminates the option of cooking burgers, brats, hot dogs or any other grilled item that you would normally find at a tailgate. What most people end up doing is getting their food catered or making it at home and bringing it to the tailgate. If you go the catered route, you can pick it up right at the game.

Whether home made or catered,I kept seeing the same food items appear in these tents. Here is what I saw.

Fruit plates, Pimento cheese sandwiches…

Chips and Salsa, Pasta Salad, Sandwiches… Watermelon…

Ole miss themed baked goods… But the most interesting thing that I tried was…

This crunchy okra. Don’t let this fool you. This okra might look normal, but it is crunchy like a potato chip. I am assuming it is somehow baked and then maybe fried? I am not sure what they did to create it,but what ever it was wow, it was awesome! You bite into it and you get this completely unexpected potato chip texture and consistency. Definitely worth a try.

Around 11 am the Grove began to take on new life.

People started flooding the Grove. This is I when I really noticed another unique aspect to the Grove. The “dress code”. The Grove is more than just a tailgate. It is a huge social event, and people dress for the occasion. I will start with the ladies fashions first.

Yes girls break out the sundresses. I have never seen this at a tailgate before…

But there are no complaints here. When wearing a dress you must have the appropriate foot wear…

Cowboy boots and  stilettos were two very common choices…

For the guys the shirts had a collar and sorority stickers on them. Around that collar there was often seen a tie…

The red and navy striped one was quite common, or you could go…

The bowtie route. Another common wardrobe choice was anything seersucker…

The Elvis guy did not get the memo about the dress code, but I will give him runner up in the best dressed category. The winner of the best dressed goes to…

The full seersucker suit, bow tie, and metallic aviators. I saw a few people wearing this, and must say I was I impressed.

About two and a half hours before kick off, I was able to take part in a very cool Ole Miss tradition. The Walk of Champions.

The Walk of Champions is a brick pathway that runs directly through the Grove. 2 and a half hours before game time the team walks down it on their way to the stadium. Here is what the walk looked like on Friday.

And now 23 hours later it looked like this.

Here is what it looked like as the team walked down lead by Coach Nutt…

After the players walked down, the crowed erupted in the Hotty Toddy cheer..

Are you ready?
Hell yes! Damn Right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who the hell are we, Hey!
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
OLE MISS BY DAMN!

I lost count of how many time I heard this throughout the afternoon. When one person would break out “Are you ready?” I knew what I was going to hear next.

After the walk the tailgate was in full swing…

2:30 was the kickoff for the Rebels against Jacksonville State. With everyone leaving the Grove to head to the game…

That was my signal that I was done for the day, but I couldn’t leave the Grove without a picture with

Colonel Reb.

After this experience at the Grove I definitely see why it is always rated in the top of best places to tailgate lists. The Grove is a beautiful area and the Ole Miss fans are incredibly friendly and inviting. I would like to thanks everyone who let me participate in your September 4th tailgate. I realize that the Grove transforms to another level during an SEC game, and after this experience I will be back one day to see the Grove at its height.

I made that trip back! Check out The Grove when Texas was in Town.

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    One hell of an event Taylor, they clearly view tailgating as a type of cult, though I suspect they only commit seppuko if they lose the game.

    That food spread is quite delectable, who doesn’t want a big ass piece of watermelon with a grove cupcake?

  2. says

    Thanks for great pictures of the Grove! It looks like a great tailgating environment. The “dress code” is definitely different from what we see in Big 10 country.

  3. Heather says

    Great post with awesome pictures! I think dressing up for tailgating/football games might be an SEC thing. People always dress up for GA games. :) Looking forward to your next stop.

  4. says

    Loved that shot of you Taylor – I bet you were happy with that many pretty sundresses around :) !!
    Ok, no kidding here, great shots and post throughout!

  5. Karri Nichols says

    Great job, you captured it well! My daughter goes to Ole Miss and I am also a UW Madison alum. Quite a difference, both fun. My daughter couldn’t believe how far frat row is from the stadium. Have a Leinie’s at the Union on the lake for me!

  6. katherine says

    This is a great post. Yes, the sundresses are a must at most Southern schools…perfect football attire! It looks like you had a blast. Can’t wait to see where your other tailgate journeys take you!

  7. says

    Looks like a typical Saturday on the Grove! The sundresses are more of a southern sorority type dress code. My daughter did it at Alabama until it was literally to cold to do so! Ah, good times! I miss them!

  8. Davis says

    I love the comment “Even though it was 5 hours prior to kickoff there were plenty of people already setting up their tents.”

    5 hours prior to kickoff, LSU fans have already been tailgating for 5 hours.

  9. Felicia Bear says

    Going to my first tailgate and game on Oct 15 with my sister and brother in law. My son will be a sophomore at ole miss this year. I’d love to join in the fun, but don’t have a tent. Anyone want to have some fun loving Ole Miss fans join them that day in the grove? Would bring some good food and drink! Looking for an invite as I know NO ONE!! We’re clean, fun, and just plain ole simple folks!

    • David, Celeste, Allen & Alissa Carroll says

      Would be welcome at our tent. We are in the Circle (similar to Grove, but not as crowded, and only about 100 steps to the Grove.)
      email us back.
      Where’re yall from?
      David

  10. says

    I was reading your “About” section and saw your link to the Ultimate Tailgating Tour. Right as I was clicking on the link, I thought, “I wonder if he visited Ole Miss.” How exciting it was to scroll down and see it was the first photo collage! I attended another Mississippi university, but my husband and I love going to Ole Miss games for all the reasons you capture so well in this post. It’s unlike anything you will ever experience at a football game! From someone born and raised in Mississippi, good job on this post!

  11. Colin O'Hara says

    Hi Taylor – Great job at the grove. I would like for you to email me to find out what I do at big ball games in the South. You simply will not believe it!
    Fabulous job and keep up the great work. I am a photographer too. I am currently using the Nikon D3100 with a 55 to 300mm lens.
    Take care Taylor…Colin

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The College Football Tailgate Tour took over the remainder of the year. Week 1 of September was in Oxford, MS. Week 2 was in Madison, WI. Week 3, I was at Virginia Tech. Week 4 saw trips to Pittsburgh and [...]

  2. [...] Tailgating in The Grove, Ole Miss, Oxford, MS Sep 8, 2010 … It is a this large green space on the Ole Miss campus that transforms overnight into …. great report! loved the picture of the bowtie with the fish on it. keep up the great work … [...]

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