Taylor Mathis: Tailgating: The Social Events of the Fall

mathis_tailgating Been hearing about the Auburn v. Ole Miss game tomorrow? UNC v. Virginia Tech? Kentucky v. South Carolina? Not sure why everyone you know is going to stand around in a field or parking lot beforehand? Or why they’ve been doing it every weekend for the past six weeks? Find out what it’s all about from Taylor Mathis, author of The Southern Tailgating Cookbook. According to tailgating enthusiast Mathis, “You’ll understand why a game day in the South is unlike any other” when you read this cookbook. Mathis traveled across twelve states to document the favorite foods and game-day traditions embraced by thousands of fans at colleges and universities throughout the football-crazy South. Featuring 110 vibrant recipes inspired by Mathis’s tailgating tours, The Southern Tailgating Cookbook is chock-full of southern football culture, colorful photographs of irresistible dishes from simple to extravagant, and essential preparation instructions.


In the South, there are six or seven Saturdays in the fall that take precedence over anything else that may be on your calendar. Some of these events are even scheduled out years in advance. For fans tailgating at these college football home games, they are the most important social events of the fall season.

If you have never been to a tailgate in the South, you may not realize what goes into it. The event is much more than people standing in a parking lot before a football game. These events are a chance to reunite with old college friends, have a family reunion, and share great food and drink with those that you love. The common thread is that everyone there has a connection to that campus and wants to be with the ones they love to support their team.

Tailgaters take the planning of these events very seriously. Many will make their way to campus as early as Wednesday evening for the Saturday kickoff. These events are all-day affairs that for many continue to go on while the game is being played. After kickoff on campuses like Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Florida, and Clemson, I found thousands of tailgaters who never intended on actually going to the game. They are there for an all-day tailgate celebrating their team! With generators, flat screen TVs, and their friends and family surrounding them, why would one go into the game, when you could stay there tailgating?

Social Events 1
Just a few of the elaborate tailgating setups found around the South! (Photo by Taylor Mathis)


Tailgaters don’t let the kickoff time disrupt the party. A night game that allows for a day full of festivities is usually ideal, but a noon game is never a problem. At a noon kickoff, the tailgate will continue after the game has concluded. In Clemson, I saw that the early kickoff allowed for Tiger fans to celebrate their victory after the game! With early afternoon games being played on TV, Tiger fans spent the afternoon savoring their win and enjoying another meal.

Social Events 2
These tigers aren’t ones for napping. (Photo by Taylor Mathis)

With every event outdoor weather can be a concern. It doesn’t matter whether there is rain, sleet, or snow, tailgaters will always show up on game-day ready to have a good time. On a visit to College Station, I was impressed when torrential downpours that might cancel other events didn’t faze tailgaters. They were still there ready to smoke and grill an assortment of game day entrees.

Social Events 3
Texas A&M tailgaters prove their commitment! (Photo by Taylor Mathis)

These are only a few examples of ways in which a Southern Tailgate is the entertaining event of the fall. To truly understand this fall event, you have to experience it for yourself!


Taylor Mathis is a food and lifestyle photographer, a blogger at Taylor Takes a Taste, and a passionate fan of all college athletics. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.