Tailgating Time

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August 23, 2012

Preparing a winning strategy for your next parking lot party

Football season is around the corner, and that means stadium lots will soon become wreathed in barbecue smoke and filled with fans wearing colorful team jerseys. Do you have a tailgating game plan for the upcoming football season?

As RVers, we have an edge in the tailgating arena. Our vehicles come equipped with fridges, stoves, ovens and ample storage space for supplies. But having these resources at our fingertips isn’t enough to stage a winning tailgating event. Bringing the right ingredients and executing the right recipes can make the difference between tailgate victory and a parking lot loss. Follow these tips to make sure that your guests leave your party ready to root for the home team.

Playbook: So you’ve invited your friends to a killer pregame tailgating bash. Now what? Make sure that you’ve procured all of the nonperishable tailgating supplies the night before the big game. You may not have time to make a last-minute dash to the market for extra paper plates before arriving at the stadium.

Make a checklist to account for all the coals, beverages, snacks, napkins, ice and food you need to stage a winning event. And make sure it’s a recipe you’re comfortable with. This is no time to test your culinary skills and risk fumbling the barbecue.

Taking the field: Arrive at the stadium early so that you can get an optimal spot. Park next to a grass area at the end of a parking row to ensure you and your guests have plenty of space. This will also give you time to warm up the grill, prep your food and heat up the coals.

You can also take this time to set up a flag so that your friends can locate you. Drop a pin for your tech savvy friends who’d prefer to locate you with GPS.

Pre-snap: Don’t let guests just stand around while the burgers or steaks are sizzling on the grill. Provide appetizers, chips and beverages to keep folks happy before the main course. You might also want to bring footballs, Frisbees or other games to keep active tailgaters busy, providing you’ve got enough space. Bring extra lounge chairs. If you’ve got satellite, turn your RV’s TV to ESPN, Fox Sports, the NFL Network or another sports channel to get your fellow fans charged up for the game.

Game time: OK, now the main course is ready. Conventional wisdom dictates that the meal should be served one and a half hours before kickoff. This will give you plenty of time to eat the meal, clean up and extinguish the coals before entering the stadium.

Share food with neighbors. This is a great opportunity to bond with fellow fans. And if the folks in the space next to you are fans of the opposite team, offer some food or drinks in the spirit of conviviality. Don’t let team rivalries stand in the way of your mutual love of the game.

Postgame: Bring lots of trash bags and make sure you pick up all litter and recyclables in your area. Leave your parking space in the same condition it was in when you arrived.

Play it safe: As always, safety should be your number one consideration. Bring a first-aid kit and make sure sunblock is on hand for you and your family. Offer your guests plenty of water, but keep tabs on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep out the sun—preferably a hat with team colors.

A little pregame planning can go a long way toward ensuring this tailgating season is a winner. Ready… set… hike!

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