Tips, traditions and advice from an South Carolina insider on the best way to tailgate at a Gamecock game this college football season.
Below, a mix of seasoned, South Carolina tailgaters explain what makes a Gamecock tailgate unique. Mike McManus, Steve Eason and Cory Thompson are members of the Gamecock Cruisers RV Club, a group of RV owners (and non-RV owners!) that support SC Gamecock Athletics by traveling to home and away games. All three men are well-versed in Gamecock tailgates—McManus is a 1978 graduate who has had season tickets since graduation; Thompson is a 2017 graduate that has been attending home and away games since 1997; and Eason attended South Carolina from 1979-83 and is a longtime Gamecock fan and season ticket holder.
When should you get there and where should you park? Arrive early for pregame festivities in Gamecock Park across Bluff Road from the stadium. Tailgating is the norm at both public and private parking venues around the stadium and most parking spots allow room for some type of tailgating. They all generally have deeded parking spots with a common club house and most are used for home games only. This fall, the Cruisers Roost RV Tailgate Park will open about a half-mile walk from Williams-Brice Stadium. It will have 36 deeded RV sites and will be available for use by owners year round. RV parking lots open on Friday afternoon, and stay open through Sunday morning. Public parking for cars on gameday opens four hours before the game. Parking is available at the fairgrounds across from the stadium. Additional parking information can be found on the Gamecocks website as well.
What should I wear? Garnet and black, of course! For hot weather in September through mid-October, be sure to wear breathable clothing. When the weather changes to cooler weather into November, you’ll need gear to help keep you warm in the cold. Some fans dress up, like the fraternity guys and sorority gals, and others dress more for comfort.
What should I bring? Never come empty handed! If you are joining a tailgate, ASK what you can bring—appetizers, drinks, ice, drinks, desert….drinks. (You get the idea.) And extra chairs are always good item to have with you. Williams Brice Stadium has a clear bag policy and no stadium seats are allowed unless they are the cushion type without pockets.
What are the best thing(s) to eat at a typical tailgate? You’ll definitely want to try the typical Southern tailgate fare of sandwiches (probably chicken salad), snacks (served up with pimento cheese) and fried chicken (and biscuits) but some tailgates will also include grilled items like burgers, hot dogs, barbecue chicken or beef and even steaks. You also may find items like a low country boil, which consists of shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes.
What traditions set South Carolina Gamecocks tailgates apart from others? Inside Gamecock Park is The Gamecock Village on Bluff Road, which continues to be a must-see destination before each home game with interactive games, sponsor giveaways and inflatables for the kids. There is also live music on site each week. Small contingents of the Carolina Band will be performing throughout tailgating areas 2.5 hours prior to kickoff. Look for members of the Carolina Band mingling with fans throughout Gamecock Park and the fair grounds to help create the proper game day atmosphere during the Carolina Band “tailgate takeover."