Tailgating with the Tigers

Tailgating with the Tigers

You’ve known it for years, but Southern Living magazine has made it official. Tailgating at Clemson is a bang-up way to share the day with 80,000 of your closest family and friends.

When Southern Living held its competition for “The South’s Best Tailgate” last fall, Clemson took the prize over a host of other schools, with Alabama and Ole Miss coming in close behind. We weren’t surprised, and know you weren’t either. This fall, we did it again.

The atmosphere in Clemson every fall fairly sparkles with anticipation. From the rumbling of RVs rolling into town on Thursday (or Wednesday for those more hard-core fans) to the streets lined for the First Friday Parade and the sea of orange tents that sprout up almost pole-to-pole in a one-mile radius around the stadium, Clemson football weekends are a series of Tiger-themed parties thrown for our 80,000-plus closest friends and family.

And we’re not talking hot dogs and potato chips, although you might find those as well, as long as they’re freshly grilled and served hot. Clemson fans cook up tailgating fare that would make Rachael Ray proud, with coordinated tablecloths, decorations, coolers and seating that could come straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. If it’s not orange, with an occasional purple accent, you won’t find it here.

You will, however, find visitors to those tents sporting the colors of the opposing teams. Because if Clemson fans are anything, they are friendly. Even the weekend of the South Carolina game, the tents are big enough for Tiger fans and Gamecock fans alike. There might be plenty of banter and (hopefully) good-spirited insults, but food and drinks will be shared.

Tailgates at Clemson start early and run late. When the game is over, the party keeps going, with cornhole games and beverages and tall tales. Friends and families find reasons to hang around for a while, even if it’s just to wait until the traffic begins to clear. They’ve been gathering here for generations, and it doesn’t get much sweeter.

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