Tips, traditions and advice from a Virginia Tech insider on the best way to tailgate at a Hokies game this college football season.
Matthew Winston, a class of 1990 alum and current senior associate vice president for alumni relations, explains how Virginia Tech may be the only school in the country that eats its own mascot at a tailgate.
When should you get there? The lots open at 7 a.m., no matter what time the game starts! But you definitely want to be at the stadium two hours before kickoff, when the team busses arrive. Fans can also stop by our Alumni Center every game day at 9:30 a.m to hear a “Hokie Talk,” which is a pre-game Ted-Talk style presentation that highlights some of our cool projects.
Where you should park? Virginia Tech has a lot of parking areas on campus, although most close to the stadium are reserved for season ticket holders who are member of the Hokie Club. However, general parking is available around the Drillfield and in the parking lot and deck across from the Alumni Center. There are also some park-and-ride shuttle options available from remote locations in and around downtown Blacksburg.
What should I wear? Maroon and orange, of course. But it depends on the time of year. Weather for the early games in September can get a little warm. Most fans will be comfortable with golf shirt, t-shirts and shorts. As you move through October games, it can get chilly, so your Hokie gear might be a hoodie or long-sleeved shirt—maybe even a jacket. November games can get frigid, so get that big coat, hat, scarf and gloves from the bookstore!
What should I bring? Bring your VT tailgate chair, game day tables and your pop-up tent. Bring your grill, bring your crock pot and bring your coolers. Bring your cornhole set and bring your music. Then settle in and have a good time with a few thousand of your closest Hokie friends.
Best thing to eat at a typical tailgate? You can get a taste of just about anything at a Virginia Tech tailgate. Everything from chicken wings to chili, sandwiches and BBQ, hamburgers and hotdogs to ribs and ham biscuits. But the diehards serve up big turkey legs, that you can also buy in the stadium, while others deep-fry a whole turkey. We may be the only school in the country that will eat its own mascot.
What traditions set VT tailgates apart from others? Overall, it’s just such a relaxing atmosphere, and the camaraderie between Hokies is strong. It’s not a bunch of separate tailgates—it turns into one large one pretty quickly. And nothing can stop it or dampen the spirit. I’ve seen people hosting tailgates in blizzards and in the middle of hurricanes. That’s no exaggeration. No matter the conditions, the marching band always visits your tailgate to play the “Hokie Pokie.”
Any other tips or things I should know before I go? Gameday in Blacksburg is one of college football’s great experiences. Many schools have great atmospheres and traditions and Virginia Tech is one of them. Hokie fans and fans of the opposing team always enjoy it. And a night game in Lane Stadium is regarded as one of the best in the land.