What you need to be the top tailgator this Homecoming

Photo Illustration by Aaron Facemire Erica Magda

Photo Illustration by Aaron Facemire Erica Magda

By Jason Grodsky

As Illinois prepares to take on Ball State at Memorial Stadium as a part of the University’s 97th Homecoming, fans, students and alumni will be taking part of another Illinois tradition: tailgating.

Tailgating is a tradition like none other. It’s part of the college football culture, just like fight songs, helmet stickers and the Hail Mary.

But for the ultimate Illini fan, tailgating is more than just the basic three B’s of tailgating – beer, brats and bags. In this week’s edition of the Touchdown Times we’ll give you a list of top-notch items that will make your tailgate a step above all the rest.

The trailer: Gameday Customs’ Ultimate Tailgate Trailer

The Ultimate Tailgate Trailer package comes complete with basically anything you can imagine, including a 26-inch LCD television, a satellite dish, a DVD player, a 1,000-watt generator, running water, a complete draft beer system and even a toilet. The trailer and all the amenities that come with its basic package are only $13,900 – a small price to pay for not having to use the Porta-John in the parking lot.

The grill: Weber Summit S-650

The Summit S-650 is the latest in grill technology from Weber. It features six stainless steel burners, a flush-mounted side burner, a dedicated smoker burner and an infrared rear-mounted rotisserie burner. The grill has 838 square inches of total cooking area and also comes with two “Grill Out” handle lights for those who want to grill in the dark. The cost of the Summit S-650 is a measly $1,699 or $1,999 depending on the use of propane or natural gas with the grill.


photo DI multimedia


The Homecoming Tailgate

Click to view an interactive audio presentation about tailgating.

The food and beverages:

No tailgate is complete without a wide selection of food. Whether it’s burgers, bratwursts, ribs, chicken, steak, or pork chops, a healthy dose of meat is essential. If your tailgate starts early in the morning, like many do for those 11 a.m. kickoffs, there’s nothing wrong with some eggs, sausage and bacon. As for those little snacks to go along with your main course, bring a wide variety of chips and dips to munch on during the game.

To wash everything down with – if you’re 21 or older – your standard beer or favorite alcoholic beverage will do, but remember to keep it classy.

The games:

If you want to be proud of your tailgate, don’t go out and buy a standard bags set. Get your hands dirty and make your own. Grab some wood, a saw and some screws and nails and put together something you can be proud of. This way you can also add on cup holders and decorate your set in whatever way you choose – preferably orange and blue.

If you’re tailgating in an open area, it’s always good to bring a football, Frisbee or any other ball you can throw around. Playing cards are also good things to keep around in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

The furniture:

For those days when Mother Nature tries to rain on your parade, have a tent handy that is easy to set up. The “Game Day” Supreme Logo Tent is a cheap, good choice if you don’t have a tent already. It features your favorite school’s colors and logo and only takes two people to pitch.

Your standard lawn chair is a safe bet, but if you want to get fancy, throw a nice La-Z-Boy recliner in the trailer and pull it out to get comfortable.

A standard cooler to keep your drinks and food in is a must have, but why carry a heavy cooler by hand when you can just ride it to your destination? With the Big Chill Motorized Cooler Scooter you can hop on the back of the rideable cooler and let the 300-watt electric motor take you where you need to go. The cooler can hold up to 24 of your favorite 12 oz. beverages and travel up to 13 miles per hour.