|What football weekend would be complete without some tailgating?|
If there is football being played in Beaver Stadium, there will be tailgating happening outside in the parking lots before, during and after. The tailgating scene at Penn State is among the best in the country, and the best thing is here is no wrong way to do it.
We asked Maddy Martin from 2 the Lion Football to share some tips for tailgating this weekend. Maddy is known for organizing weekly, themed tailgate parties durring the season, and the Blue White Game is no exception.
Over the years our crew of tailgaters has grown to include Penn Staters of all ages and from all over the country. The Blue White tailgate is typically one of our largest crowds of the year as the free game admission and parking makes it an easy way to enjoy a football game and tailgate in Happy Valley.
I grew up in State College and the annual Blue White Game was the biggest holiday of the off-season. My dad always said that it was the practice game for the team, and the practice tailgate for the fans. I’ve been to a lot of tailgates for Blue White, and whether the group was 3 or 100+ people, they’ve all been memorable.
And sticking with that tradition, I’ve always seen the Blue White Game as an opportunity to dust off our tailgating supplies and test our new equipment and recipes.
Here are some basic tips for getting ready for a spring scrimmage tailgate:
- Clean. While it might not be the most glamorous of pre-tailgate chores, going through your cache of blue bowls and trays allows you to get reacquainted with your gear evaluate if you need to get a new paw print chip and dip bowl (you probably need this) or an extra set of table cloth clips.
- Test your grills and stoves and buy new fuel tanks. Charcoal isn’t permitted in the parking area around Beaver Stadium, so propane stoves and grills are key tailgating equipment. Be sure to test (and find) the correct regulators and accessories – and check to see if you remembered to clean everything before you packed it away for the winter; it’s okay (hopefully) if you didn’t, but it’s better to know before you get to the parking lot. Check your gas tanks and/or stock up on gas canisters.
- Check your coolers and ice packs. It almost never fails that no matter how clean the cooler was when you put it away last November, it always needs a scrubbing before it’s first use of the new year. Make sure that your ice packs have survived the past season, and remember to put them in the freezer.
- Plan ahead. We spend the weeks (okay, months) before Blue White planning and compiling our equipment lists and menus. We like to alleviate some of the pre-game stress by making things ahead and freezing them. Weather can play a big role in your planning, and as State College weather can be unpredictable (ie we always hope for sun, but it often rains), so it’s a good idea to keep you menus adaptable. Finger foods and “food on a stick” that are easy to eat are perfect for tailgates; if you do make a deliciously awesome ambrosia salad, make sure that you bring utensils.
- Choose food that stands the test of time. Blue White Saturday is a long day. Parking lots open at 8am and tailgaters stay well into the evening, so you want to be sure that you serve food and drinks that can survive the long hours. Well stocked (and iced) coolers are key to keeping perishables (such as ambrosia salad) cold (and safe) and it’s helpful to have plastic bags/containers to store your chips/bread/cookies if it is rainy or humid (okay, it’s State College, so it’s almost always going to be).
- Be prepared; as mentioned above, you never know what the day/weekend will bring. Blue White is a popular game – so bring extra provisions for unexpected guests. Here’s a list of items that we always take to the tailgate – no matter the crowd, weather or menu:
- Water (for cooking and drinking)
- chairs: it’s a long day, you’re going to want to sit down
- pop-up canopy: whether sunny or rain
- extra ice
- can opener
- butane lighter(s)
- handy wipes and toilet paper
- cork screw/bottle opener
- sharp knife
- zip close plastic bags
- large spoons for cooking and serving
- bag/bin for dirty dishes
- fasteners: clamps, clips, ratchet tie-downs (it’s also almost always windy)
- aluminum foil
- sunscreen: even if the forecast is for rain
- pot holders
- paper towels
- first aid kit
And finally, be friendly. The best tailgate gear is a good neighbor. No matter how well you’ve planned, packed and prepared, there’s always something forgotten or needed, so make friends with your neighboring tailgaters. This year, the Blue White is guaranteed to be a new experience for us all, and we’re very excited to cheer on the team and visit with our friends, old and new.