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Big Ideas For Budget Tailgating: Ole Miss Edition

If there were a conference title for pre-game atmosphere, Ole Miss would surely win each and every year.

It would be the longest running dynasty in the history of college football. The Grove is, of course, at the heart of campus — former University of Mississippi chancellor Robert Khayat even described it to the New York Times as a “spiritual place” during the week. But on the weekends, it’s the grounds for the state’s No. 1 party.

Tailgating at the Grove is an incredible experience. Game day sees the Grove carpeted with about 2,500 pop-up tents, about 100,000 Rebels fans and visitors from other teams, and a form of Southern hospitality that only the Magnolia State can provide. So how does one have a big, Southern-style, Grove-worthy tailgate party with all the fixings while on a budget? Here’s a guide for good ol’ football fun that any Rebels fan can execute.

Keep Up Traditions

When it comes to Ole Miss pre-gaming, it’s more of a cocktail party, fancy picnic vibe where partyers wear collared shirts, blazers and sundresses. It’s less of a backwoods BBQ with raucous fans sporting gaudy apparel. The Ole Miss version of the tailgate is a gigantic family reunion, where everyone is welcome (even LSU fans). So keep that in mind when headed to the stadium to tailgate or throwing a party in your own backyard.

Food and Drink

If you’re watching the game at home and hosting a tailgate party away from the Grove, keep up with the budget-friendly Grove traditions like drinking alcohol and beer from red plastic cups. Purchase beer in bulk and opt for a cheaper domestic keg. Your guests will just be happy to be there; they won’t care much whether it’s Budweiser or Natty Light. Instead of champagne, another Saturday drink of choice, add OJ to make mimosas to save on cost.

For food, skip expensive meat dishes like steaks and pork chops and opt instead for traditional deviled eggs, finger sandwiches, fruit and veggie crudité and a cheese plate. Blame it on the Grove laws, where there are no open flames allowed. This saves on the high price of meat and fixins, making your shindig inexpensive but fancy at the same time. For true Southern style, serve food on silvery trays.

Craft Your Own Decor

To show your spirit and pride of Ole Miss (and save money on pricey official team merchandise), craft your own decorations. Make banners and decorate with cardinal red and navy blue fancy paperwear to show your Rebels love. Much of the décor will be provided by your guests as they wear the team colors with pride, so you don’t have to get crazy with decorations.

Insider Tips

If you’re a visitor perusing the Grove or any other tailgating pregame party, there are some freeloading strategies you can use to have the best day ever. Here’s the thing about Ole Miss Hospitality: It’s big and welcoming. With manners beating out bad attitudes, you’ll be able to rub shoulders with the opposing team’s fans, as strangers are invited into tents and Rebels fans happily share their goods.

The Dish Insider’s Guide highlights a few tailgating strategies to help you become one with your Ole Miss compadres. Be the “extra fun” guy or gal and bring along something no one else has, such as a rolling flip cup table or a portable ping-pong table. And arm yourself with a high-powered misting bottle to cool off during those toasty September Saturdays.

No matter if you’re throwing a party or visiting the Grove for the ultimate tailgate, don your finest afternoon attire, put on that welcoming Southern smile and be prepared to make new friends for years to come.


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