War Eagle! Tips, traditions and advice from Auburn insiders for fans looking to tailgate at a Tigers game this college football season.
War Eagle! A mixture of Auburn alums/mega-tailgaters, Chris Bumpers (class of '81), Annie Harvell (class of '07), Mike Stover (class of '05/'17) and Lee Thompson (class of '06) give a rundown of what they've learned in their many years of tailgating, what makes Auburn so special, and why you need to claim your spot early. (Seriously, don't procrastinate when it comes to this.)
For someone who doesn’t have a reservation, what time would you recommend arriving to claim a spot?
Thompson: If you want to get a really good spot, close to campus, I would recommend getting there as early on Friday as you can. You can rope off parking spots in certain locations so the earlier the better.
Harvell: If you’re planning to have your own spot, and it’s not reserved, you need to be out there Friday morning to claim your space. You can’t mark anything off until 4 p.m., but if you wait that long, there won’t be anywhere.
Any parking tips?
Thompson: Download the Auburn tailgating guide. It has tons of information, including on parking, which you should definitely do your research on ahead of time. If you’re not familiar with town, try to park in places close to roadways that exit town. The roadways are marked pretty well all over campus. If you don’t want to fight parking on campus there is tons of free parking off campus and they provide travel to and from the stadium all day!
What’s your tailgate setup? (RV, car, tent, etc.)
Bumpers: A 45-foot RV with a 25 x 20 deck out back and 16 x 24 patio/outdoor kitchen on the side, three TVs inside and four outside.
Harvell: The Mises Institute has a covered patio/carport area that’s big enough to host at least 100 people. There are multiple families that set up there. They provide the ice machines, bathrooms, and TVs, so all we have to do is bring tables, chairs, and our food for the week.
Stover: We have multiple tents in a reserved field area. Typically 3 tents, with multiple tables, a TV with satellite, etc.
Thompson: The current set up we have is about 4 pop up tents. We typically put all of them together to create a big “room” with seating and tv on one side and food buffet along the back. I have tailgated in basically every scenario at Auburn and I can tell you they’re all outstanding. Now a days there are even several RV parks like University Station that offer a whole weekend experience if you put your RV there. They have catered food and live music every Friday night. With over 800 spots it’s like a popular rock concert every night.
How should you dress for an Auburn tailgate? (i.e. school colors, however you want, Ole Miss formal, etc.)
Stover: Definitely all orange and blue, but not “Ole Miss formal." Casual, but school colors.
Thompson: At Auburn, any form of dress is acceptable. On game day you’ll see anything from your typical Auburn fan wear to formal style dresses & blazers and of course students painted from head to toe.
What’s the food situation like at Auburn tailgates?
Bumpers: If you’re tailgating at a reserved spot on campus then it is best to have it catered. At my spot we prefer to grill and usually we tie to who we are playing. Arkansas = BBQ pork. South Carolina = BBQ chicken. LSU = Cajun food. Florida = fried gator tail, shrimp.
Harvell: There are several food trucks and dining options around the stadium on game day. Campus is also really close to downtown where there are tons of restaurants. Lots of the places around campus also offer party trays and tailgate packages that you can pick up and take with you.
What should you bring with you to make your tailgate the best possible experience?
Harvell: In Auburn, I’ve never seen a stranger turned away from any tailgate, even if you’re cheering for the wrong team. We’re a really friendly bunch. However, if you want to make your life easier, it’s usually smart to have a cooler with whatever your beverage of choice is and a few tailgate chairs. If you can manage that, you’ll be set.
What are the must-see Auburn traditions?
Bumpers: I usually carry some first timers each year; this is the must do list:
4 p.m. Friday: “Football Fans and Feathers” at the Southeastern Raptor Center. They will have the eagle that flies at the Auburn games there and they will exhibit and fly him and many other raptors for an entertaining and educational hour. You can have your picture made with the Auburn Eagle. A must for a first timer.
5 p.m. Friday: Tour the locker rooms and go out onto Pat Dye Field in Jordan Hare Stadium.
Sometime before the game take time to visit the statues of some of Auburn’s famous student athletes such as Bo Jackson, Cam Newton and Charles Barkley.
Two Hours before kickoff: Must attend “Tiger Walk." A tradition that started at Auburn that most all schools have copied but no one can duplicate.
One hour and 20 minutes before kickoff we march with the band down to the intersection right outside the stadium for a pregame pep rally.
25 min before kickoff you must be in your seat to watch the Eagle fly. The greatest current tradition in college football.
After the game you can go the locker room exit and congratulate the players as they come out.
After the game go to Toomers Corner for a Victory Celebration that all of college football envies because they keep trying to destroy it either by poison or fire. You have to Roll Toomers!!
On Sunday Morning on your way home stop by the Wellness Kitchen on campus for brunch. It is great food and last chance to mingle with great Auburn people and students.
Thompson: Right by the stadium is an entire field set up with events for fans of all ages. Theres face painting, bounce houses, autograph sessions and more. Tons of vendors set up offering anything from a free meal or chance to win a new car. There is often a booth set up with former Auburn players that allow you to interact with them, take pictures, and get autographs.
What general advice/tips would you have for someone attending an Auburn tailgate for the first time?
Stover: If you are joining someone else’s tailgate, find out what you can bring that fits the menu of the day. Plan to get there early, and wear orange and blue. Be prepared to greet friends with a “War Eagle," and plan for a long, fun day. You will most certainly make several new friends that will welcome you to town and be generous hosts.
Is there anything else a visitor should know about tailgating at Auburn?
Stover: Try to join a group that already has a spot established. If you aren’t familiar with the way campus is setup and the unspoken rules/traditions, it can be a little challenging to figure out. It’s best to find a group to tag along with so they can show you the ropes.
Bumpers: Learn to say WAR EAGLE!!! And Smile.