You don’t have to be a student or employee of Notre Dame to get in on the fun. Everyone enjoys a good party, and a tailgate party is one of the best ways to celebrate the last days of good weather and sunshine in Michiana.
The Top 10 Essentials for a Great Tailgate Weekend
- Pick a great location
Our friends like to tailgate off campus so that we can use a charcoal grill, so we set up at the parking lot behind The Linebacker and Belmont Beverage. This is a convenient location, because if your friends run out of supplies they can restock! We recommend purchasing a giant bag of cheesy puffs and Notre Dame themed napkins. You can also order a really cold beer and watch other football games in the Linebacker if you need to get out of the sun for awhile.
2. Create a signature beverage for your party
Nothing is better on a crisp fall morning than a lovely solo cup filled with spiked apple cider. You can make it warm or cold, and take it to the party in an insulated drink dispenser. We created an apple cider bourbon cocktail this year.
3. Take your tailgate to professional levels with a fancy set-up.
Here, you see the Kelly Green Bus. It’s a serious tailgating machine. The guys in charge of this party knew what they were doing. They had a big tv to watch the game and giant speakers to play music for the lot. They even had an Admiral Ackbar flag flying over their party! (Notice they also have a signature cocktail at their food table!)
4. You’ll want to have some fun activities
Here, Sam and his college friend Nathaniel play cornhole. It’s a classic tailgate friendly game, and it’s easy for anyone to play. You can also entertain yourself with people-watching. This Saturday, we saw people in crazy costumes, big groups of bikers, and a shiny chrome vehicle that looked like it came straight from the set of Mad Max.
5. Bring gear with personality (and don’t forget the tongs!)
Show your team spirit with all sorts of sports related tailgating essentials. Our portable grill looks like a Chicago Bears helmet. There are always lots of Bears fans who get a kick out of seeing some team pride at a tailgate party in South Bend! ALSO, it’s totally important to make sure you bring the essential items that make cooking your food in a parking lot successful. These include: tongs, charcoal, a lighter, paper towels, plates, forks, and MUSTARD. We totally forgot the mustard this year. As you can tell, it totally ruined the experience! 😉
6. Food should be delicious!
If you can find friends who love to cook, make sure you invite them to your tailgate. Good food and good friends are what this party’s all about, so everyone can pitch in to make their favorite tailgating treats. This chili was made by McK’s husband Bob, and it was amazing! We also had brats with peppers and onions, braised green beans, flourless brownies, and a ridiculous assortment of snack foods. Cheesy puffs and tortilla chips with homemade salsa or guacamole will make almost everyone happy!
7. You are totally winning if you coordinate your outfit with the food!
This is our friend Nick. He came all the way from Iowa to support Notre Dame, and also to support Chicken and Waffles. In a moment of total serendipity, Nick wore his Chicken and Waffles t-shirt at a party serving Chicken and Waffles! This is especially hilarious after drinking some Cider Bourbon Cocktails. Major points to Nick!
8. Take advantage of your surroundings
Want to know whether the University of Illinois is winning their game? (Sorry, they’re probably not, but you could still check.) Visit one of the bars in the area—like The Linebacker, Between the Buns, or take a stroll on campus and visit Legends of Notre Dame.
9. Don’t forget to try to go to the game
Make sure that at least once in your life, you get to actually find tickets and go to the game. There’s nothing like the atmosphere of a game in this stadium. It’s college football at its very best, with the beautiful South Bend autumn sky above, and cheering fans surrounding you. GO IRISH!
10. After the festivities, wind down with your best friend.
Mainly, because, who can resist the cutest Notre Dame fan of all?