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