How to Tailgate Like a Seasoned Pro

How to Tailgate Like a Seasoned Pro

Football season is upon us and one of the quintessential activities of any good Midwestern fall is tailgating. Grange Grove sees it’s fair share of seasoned tailgaters, but if you are new to this time-honored tradition there can be a lot to consider – food, drinks, location, etc. This week, we’re breaking it down to help you tailgate like a pro.


For many people, food is the most integral part of any good tailgate. Classics like burgers and hot dogs are still great choices but many tailgates have evolved far beyond the basics. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to what you’ll be serving at your tailgate. A quick Google or Pinterest search will generate thousands of recipes specifically for tailgating. Think about food that you might be able to prep ahead of time. Maybe you can make something that could go in a Crockpot. The less work you have to actually do the day of or during your tailgate, the better.


The second (or in some cases, first) most important thing for tailgates are the drinks. Of course everyone has their own preference on what beverage to enjoy throughout the day so I’m not even going to begin to make specific recommendations. However, I will suggest that you have options. And I don’t just mean different flavors of White Claws. Make sure to have some sort of hydration (i.e. water, Gatorade, etc.) and maybe even caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. Remember, tailgating is a marathon not a sprint. There is a trend going around on Tik Tok about needing three different kinds of beverages at any given time – one for fun, one for hydration and one for energy. While I don’t normally suggest taking advice from Tik Tok, I will endorse this one.


Now that you’ve got the important things figured out (food + drinks), you’ll need to look the part as well. If you’re going to be in Grange Grove it is imperative that you wear orange and blue. Please do not be that person that shows up wearing neutral colors or (Heaven forbid) the opposing teams colors. For all of your Fighting Illini apparel needs check out The Illinois NIL StoreGameday Spirit Fanstore or the Illini Union Bookstore. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a sea of orange and blue on a gameday.

Where to Park

If you’re a first time tailgater figuring out where to go can be confusing. Luckily, University of Illinois Athletics has a great guide and FAQ page. This guide has maps, timelines and pretty much everything that you need to know to have the best tailgate ever. If you happen to be meeting people at Grange Grove and need somewhere else to park there are plenty of lots near the stadium or you can see what nearby lots or businesses maybe selling spots as well. Both the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club offer gameday parking just a few block from the stadium on State Street.

What to Bring

Now, you’ve got food, you’ve got drinks, you’re decked out in orange & blue, what else do you need? Well, here are some things to consider packing as you prepare for your tailgate:

  • Tables – make sure to have plenty of table space to put your food, drinks, etc.
  • Tent – it’s probably going to be sunny and hot. Make sure you have some shade.
  • Coolers – Do not underestimate the amount of cooler space you’re going to need.
  • Music – Set the tone for your tailgate with a portable speaker and a killer playlist.
  • Bug Spray & Sunscreen – Don’t be miserable. Come prepared to combat sun and bugs.
  • Extra Power – Your phone is probably going to get drained pretty quickly. Bring an extra charger or power block so your phone doesn’t die
  • Clear Bag – If you plan to go into the actual game after tailgating, make sure that you have a clear bag (This is a requirement for entry into Memorial Stadium.

Lastly, please have fun, be courteous to your fellow tailgaters and make some memories.


Join Campus Ink in conjunction with 217 Mortgage, Nate Evans Group and Country Financial representative Austin Beaty for a tailgate this Saturday, September 10 beginning at 11:00 a.m. The tailgate will feature special guests Skyy Clark and Jayden Epps who will be signing autographs and meeting fans.

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