Welcome to the 8th stop on the Tailgate Tour. Georgia vs Florida. On October 30th, 2010, I attended the yearly contest between SEC East rivals the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators in Jacksonville, FL. It is nicknamed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”. After my trip to the game I completely understand how the event earned this nickname. The whole weekend is a huge party! For many people it runs from Thursday until after the game on Saturday. Here is what I discovered in Jacksonville.
Earlier in the week, I shared with you my visit to St. Simons and what I ate at the Saltwater Cowboy. UGA students head down to St. Simons before the game and begin their tailgating festivities there. After eating lunch, I decided to head to the beach and see where all of the students were.
It was high tide, so your options to get to the beach were wade through the water or walk across the grass. With a backpack full of camera gear on, I decided to take my chances on the grass path.
Wearing tennis shoes was a good decision. I could tell by the reactions of the people in front of me that there were quite a few sand spurs and sharp rocks along the way. Most of these individuals were pretty drunk, so I doubt it bothered them too much.
Really the only rules for the beach were no glass bottles and no styrofoam coolers. The scene on the beach was basically what you would see at spring break.
Except this is October and not March. After my visit to St Simons, I understand why all my friends from UGA told me I had to see it. For many UGA students a trip to St. Simons is how they start their cocktail party weekend, and some of them just stay there the whole weekend.
After St. Simons, I finished the last hour and half of the trip to Jacksonville. The cocktail party is a big weekend for the city of Jacksonville. Thousands of visitors came into town for the game and one place that a lot of them headed to was the Jacksonville Landing.
The Landing is next to the water, and like I saw at Tennessee and Washington, tailgating happens on boats! Many people come in on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and tie up at the landing for the weekend. The Landing has several restaurants and bars where fans can hang out before the game. On Friday afternoon there was a TV show taping a special on the UGA vs FL game. Later that night the landing would look much different.
As the sun began to set more boats showed up at the landing. They would tie up next to each other creating one huge boat party.
With the sun down, the party down at the dock was in full swing. Here is what The Landing looked like as I was leaving.
Just a little more crowded than earlier before. Notice how there are red and blue shirts everywhere. Red, black, blue and orange were the dominant colors of the weekend. The Gators wear the orange and blue while the Georgia Bulldogs dressed in red and black. After leaving The Landing, it was time to head back to my hotel and rest up for Saturday’s cocktail party.
I arrived at the cocktail party a little before 9 am with the game starting at 3:30. The game was played at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Stadium. The stadium is located in downtown Jacksonville. There are dozens of lots that you can get a parking pass with your tickets, but there is plenty of additional parking in the neighborhoods just outside the stadium. Arriving as early as I did, I had no problems finding a parking spot.
Whether it be by bus, truck or RV around 10 am thousands of people began pouring into the tailgating areas. The highway passes right next to the stadium which makes tailgating interesting. You have the parking pass lots that circle the stadium like these
On the left is what they looked like arrived and on the right is what they looked like a few hours later. These were filled with thousands of tailgaters. Outside of these lots, the highway made things a little interesting.
Have you ever tailgated under an overpass? Well at The Cocktail Party you can. Pretty much any space that you can find to tailgate in, there were people tailgating there.
Past the overpass there were dozens of empty gravel lots that had been converted into parking lots. The most dedicated tailgaters were found in the RV lot.There were smaller RV lots further away from the stadium, but the main RV lot, known as RV City, was right next to the overpass and had some pretty impressive tailgaters there.
Both UGA and UF fans were able to cohabitate in this lot surprisingly peacefully. Most of the RVs arrived a few days before the game. I even heard of one RV that was there the Saturday before the game! Those are some of the larger tailgating areas, but really anywhere that had room to park and was within walking distance to the stadium was fair game for tailgating.
Regardless of where you were the above images are a general idea of what you would see. If you are attending the cocktail party you have to arrive dressed appropriately. The most important aspect of your clothing choice should be the color.
For UGA fans, that means red and black.
Gator fans, you should be in blue and orange.
Once you have your colors chosen you can go several ways. I saw hundreds of girls with the cocktail dress.
For Georgia girls the black dress was incredibly popular.
There were plenty of guys who displayed pants and a collared shirt.
With it being Halloween, there were also those who decided to wear their Halloween costume.
I will say that FL won on funny t shirts. These were my favorite 2.
Yes those are jorts (jean shorts). Florida fans have a stereotype for wearing these. I must not have the “jort radar” that UGA fans have. I didn’t really notice that many pairs of them. It wasn’t until editing pictures at home that I noticed UF fans wearing them, so I thought I would mention it.
At the cocktail party it doesn’t really matter what you wear as long as you pick the right colors.
Even an Orange body suit is acceptable.
Now that you know how to dress, you might be wondering what is there to eat?
In tailgating it is always important to start your day off with a good breakfast. I have seen sausage and pancakes, but this was the first time that I had seen sausage inside of a pancake. If that isn’t your style how about
A Bloody Mary and waffles?
If a Bloody Mary isn’t your favorite there are plenty of other cocktails one can make. After all, there is a reason why this tailgate earned its nickname. A bar on the back of a pickup or a table was a common site at most places I stopped at.
I saw some pretty cool jello shots in Washington, but these multi leveled shots with the schools colors are incredibly impressive. Other than beverages, there was plenty of food to be found.
Of course there were burgers and hot dogs on the grill, but there were plenty of tailgating firsts.
BBQ chicken wings! And
Delicious looking ribs!
Low Country Boil anyone? This one had it all. Potatoes, corn, shrimp, crab, and sausage!
What about Apalachicola Oysters steaming on the grill?
This reminds me a lot of my trip to the Charleston Oyster Festival last year.
No surprise that these were all that remained of the original 2 bushels of oysters.
There is only one way to end your tailgating meal…
With a cupcake of course! Sorry gator fans, this UGA cupcake was the only one I saw.
I was not sure how to put this section into the post, so here it goes. If you know me really well, then you have probably heard me mention that I want to get a bulldog one day and teach him to skate board! Yes I know it has been done, and no I can’t skate board, but I think I could teach my future bulldog to. In Washington, I made friends with an American Bulldog, but the English variety hold special place in my heart. This being said, I have always been a fan of UGA’s mascot. Well it turns out FL fans are fans of the bulldog as well. This big guy was named Tebow. A Florida dressed bulldog named after the gators Heisman winning QB? No you are not imagining things. There were plenty of UGA fans who were not happy about his name, but look at that face. How could you not like him?
So cute. I saw a lot of FL bulldogs, but I did see a Georgia Bulldog!
WARNING PUPPY ALERT
When I was at The Landing on Friday night, I saw these guys for sale and I couldn’t resit holding one. I was very tempted to forget about the tailgate and just run away with the little guy, but I restrained myself.
Anyway back to tailgating. I have said before that the UGA/FL game was one giant party, well what do you do when you get invited to several people’s tailgates that are miles apart? Well you have several options.
If your cooler has wheels, you can roll it around as you tailgate hop. This sounds great, but a heavy cooler does not do too well on rough terrain with those flimsy wheels. So what do you do?
Motorize it! This is a rascal converted into a cooler scooter! Genius! It is also very effective.There were other people who had similar ideas.
I really like how there is a cup holder for your beverage. These scooters were cool, but this was the best scooter of the day..
A scooter with a wagon on the back! Amazing!. When I saw this guy driving down the street, I just started laughing. This was one of the funniest/most creative ways to transport your party supplies I have seen on the tour. So what do you do if you have more than 2 people that want to tailgate hop.
Upgrade to a golf cart. Like clothing, golf carts followed the strict color scheme of the cocktail party. Gator fan’s golf carts were orange and blue. Georgia fans were black and red.
This golf cart had an interesting modification to it.
A dancing pole in the back. Everyone who has taken a turn on the pole has signed the side of the cart. Other than golf carts and scooters there were quite a few other vehicles I saw at the cocktail party.
This biker brought the party with him! He was packing some serious speaker power behind his bike. You could definitely hear him from a distance away.
This is the first hearse I have seen while tailgating, but the details in its decorations were impressive. Hearse or RV in the shop? There was another vehicle that could get you there.
Whether it be Gator blue or Georgia red, or any color in between, the pick up truck was definitely the most popular way to get to the game. They are perfect to hold all of your tailgating gear.
As far as tailgating games go there were your standards of beer pong and flip cup. The most common game I saw was cornhole.
Unfortunately there was a football game that people were attending, and with that my time at the cocktail party came to an end. I am sure that people continued their partying after the game, but for me I had a 6 hour drive back to Charlotte.
The GA/FL game is an experience that like non other in College Football tailgating. The only event I could compare it to is the Red River Rivalry. With two enormous football schools playing every year at a neutral site, tailgating is taken to a different level. There is no home team. Each school brings their traditions and own attitudes towards tailgating with them. Everywhere I walked I saw one party after another. If you could park a car there, then people would tailgate. Given the fact that most people begin their tailgating on Thursday or Friday, I can see how this event has earned the nickname “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”
Thank you to everyone I met in Jacksonville, I appreciate your hospitality and allowing me to take pictures of your tailgating activities. A special Thanks goes out to Katherine, Carl, Bo and Mary Mitchell. Mary Mitchell is one of my friends from high school who is a UF Alum and veteran of the Cocktail Party. She joined me on the trip and was my assistant for the day. Thanks again everyone for all of your help.
This weekend I am headed down to Baton Rouge for the LSU vs Alabama game. I have heard amazing things about tailgating in Baton Rouge and can’t wait to see if it lives up to its hype!