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Have RV…..Will Tailgate!

rv tailgating

RV tailgating is an American tradition. RVers have been tailgating since the very first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, when fans traveled to the game by carriage and buckboard (think very early RVs), and grilled sausages and burgers at the “tail end” of the horse.

Of course, Yale’s version, as verified by, no less an authority than Yale University itself, says it all began at Yale in 1904. According to Yale, private train cars brought fans to a Yale game. The train stopped at the station and the fans had to walk to the stadium. Upon arriving at the stadium, they were naturally hungry and thirsty. So the idea was born to bring along a picnic hamper of food for the next game – and – voila! tailgating was born.

rv tailgating

Pro football tailgate parties, particularly Super Bowl Parties, are some of the biggest tailgating affairs.

Whenever it began, today, RV tailgating is a cherished part of football. The party often begins days before the game, and many RVing tailgaters don’t even bother to attend the game. In fact the game, it seems, has almost become a sidelight, nothing more than a reason to get together for some tailgating outside the stadium. RVs with built-in big screen TVs, surround sound audio, mini refrigerators, carpeting, and lots of extras, highlight RV tailgating “cities”. Corporations set up tents with lavishly catered meals for some of their biggest clients. Web sites have sprouted up, selling products to enhance the tailgating experience. (How can you enjoy the game without a barbecue grilling iron that brands chicken, steaks or pork chops with the logo of your favorite team? Or dinner plates with team logos?)

Some RVers have even turned tailgating into a lifestyle. After Joe Cahn, the self-proclaimed “Commissioner of Tailgating” sold his business, the New Orleans School of Cooking in 1996, he hit the road in his RV. While that doesn’t sound so unusual, he differs from most RVing retirees by spending the bulk of his time in stadium parking lots around the country. Cahn has amassed over 217,000 miles, burned nearly 35,000 gallons of gasoline, visited hundreds of venues and tailgated with thousands of hungry football fans. During his journeys he has visited all 32 NFL stadiums and over 60 college stadiums across the nation. He also has Dorito’s as a corporate sponsor. (Somebody has to pay his gas bill!)

RV tailgating parties may be the last great American ‘neighborhood.’ While many people won’t walk around their own neighborhoods, when you’re tailgating, you get to walk through thousands of “backyards” with no privacy fences. You can visit with other RVers, say hello to people, and they’ll say hello back.

rv tailgating

Ole Miss has the "Grove" - 10 acres in the center of campus...but they don't miss an opportunity to bring their RVs.

No two parties are exactly the same. Some are thoroughly unique. Ole Miss provides a special setting. ‘The Grove’ covering 10 acres in the center of campus, shaded by giant oak trees (hence the name), is packed on game days with students wearing their Sunday best, and tailgaters who opt for decorum over decadence. These are people who know how to party properly, always with extreme reverence for the annual rite of autumn.

Before Eli Manning, the Grove was about the only reason to attend a Rebels game. Even now, some fans grumble that too many seats inside the stadium are empty at kickoff because their holders choose to linger in the tranquil setting of the RV tailgate city.

rv tailgating

Tailgating (Boatgating?) on the Tennessee River. Tennessee and Washington are the only two schools that can be reached by water...so the Vol Navy is the tailgating hot spot.

Stephen Ross, an assistant professor in Minnesota’s Division of Recreation and Sports Studies, found that tailgating can be addictive – and it’s got nothing to do with all the alcohol that’s consumed.

“Once people start doing it, it’s very hard to stop,” he said. “They continue to do it, and continue to do it for a very long time. We found a fairly substantial number, maybe a quarter of the people, who had been doing it for 20-plus years.”

rv tailgating

Bulldog fans prefer grits and fried chicken when they gather in Athens, or anywhere around the southeast. (Photo courtesy of UGA Athletics.)


The assortment of food found at tailgate parties includes a wide variety of dishes. You will typically find regional foods at tailgates. At Tennessee, there’s always plenty of barbecue. And did we mention the pots of jambalaya at LSU? Of course, some foods are universal. Brats, hamburgers, steaks and kabobs are popular in all parts of the country. And some fans cook to the team they’re playing. When Georgia is playing LSU, you’ll find a lot of jambalaya in the Georgia tailgate.

In general the grill and/or smoker is the cooking equipment of choice. So whatever you find on the grill or smoker will typically show up at the tailgate party. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages are the easy menu items, but chicken wings, both fried and grilled, make their way to most tailgate parties. Other Southeast tailgate favorites include lobster, shrimp, oysters, and sometimes even whole hogs!

Speaking of menus, you’ll find plenty of help online. Websites like Tabasco.com and Tailgating.com  will deliver recipe ideas sure to score a touchdown with your RV tailgating crew.

The menu can be very simple or it can be very extravagant. Remember, you can use your RV kitchen and/or microwave to prepare some tailgating menu items, and enjoy them outside on the parking lot, or do some preparation at home and bring the cooked food to the tailgate party to eliminate the preparation on site.


1. Choose a spot in the parking lot where you get a great view of the stadium. Some fans may elect to stay at the tailgating site for the entire game, so a view of the score board is always good to get. A good location in the parking lot also lets you be around other tailgaters and folks just passing by, headed into the game.

2. Get plenty of decorations for your RV supporting your favorite team. A great website you’ll want to visit is NFLTailgating, where you’ll find tailgating gear customized for every NFL team on the roster! 

3. Do not forget ice and at least three ice chests: one ice chest for your drinks, one ice chest for storing left-over food, and a third ice chest to store ice. Have we made ourselves clear? Have plenty of ice!

4. A grill, smoker, propane stove, or propane fryer is what you’ll want for cooking large amounts of food. You don’t want to make too big of a mess inside your RV!

5. Make sure you have an idea of the how many people will be tailgating with you, and bring extra – you’ll want to have plenty of food for everyone to enjoy, and have some extra for people you run into.

6. Your armchair quarterback (and visitors) will appreciate a few chairs.

7. Don’t forget plenty of water. NO, you don’t really need all that water to drink but you need water to put out the fire in the grill. You will also need water for people to wash their hands after eating, and to clean up the area before you leave.

8. Bring twice as many paper towels as you think you will need. They work great for napkins, cleaning rags, etc.

9.Toilet paper will be your best friend if the port-o-potties run out.

10. Don’t forget all of the tailgating essentials: Disposable serving trays, paper plates, plastic forks, and spoons, garbage bags, wet wipes or baby wipes – and aluminum foil, which you can use for a bunch of things!

And Finally……

Ladder golf at a University of Texas tailgate

In a nutshell…..Tailgating is talking about how the game will turn out in your opinion (before the game) and then dissecting every play (after the game). You do not have to have a fancy RV. All you really need is to get out there and have some fun.

Tailgating can make an ordinary football game into a special event. It brings together friends, family, fans and food. It’s about having fun, eating some good food, and doing some armchair quarterbacking. 

Go out and support your team. It doesn’t matter if you have a national champion or super bowl contender. The idea is to get out there and have a great time in your RV.

Come visit us at Safford RV, 6101 Mallard Road, Thornburg, VA….conveniently located right off of I-95, just past Fredericksburg, VA.  We have a huge selection of RVs that are just perfect for your next tailgate party!!!

You can reach us on the web: http://www.saffordrv.com/ , or by phone Toll-Free: (800) 719-3507   Local: 540-735-1100, for more information.