The Tailgating Traditions of the Bauer Family and the “GAVY’s Gang” Tent
An Interview with Ty Bauer by HottyToddy.com
Enjoy the eighth in our series of Tailgating Traditions articles sponsored by Ole Miss Tailgating where you can even order Raising Cane’s® and Chick-fil-A® for your Grove Tent! (Click the Ole Miss Tailgating logo below to see the menu and order!)
HottyToddy.com: The Bauer family has been tailgating for a long time, tell us about the history?
Ty Bauer: As you may know, our tailgate is affectionately known as “GAVY’s Gang”. There is a good bit of history in our story. Back in the early 1990’s, I purchased an RV. My two oldest daughters were still babies and the thought of camping and tailgating as a family seemed fun.
Over time, the RV became solely about Ole Miss home and away games. The RV was great, but it seemed a little distant to the real traditions that my wife and I loved so much about Ole Miss. We found ourselves hiking to the Grove more and more to show our girls the experience. My wife, Lee Ann, and I moved from Southaven to Oxford in late 1996, so the RV became more of a road game vehicle, although we still took it to campus on game day. We did quit staying overnight there.
In October of 2000 Lee Ann actually went into labor with our third daughter at a game. With three young daughters growing up in a Rebel family, I decided to sell the RV and buy a tent, moving my family into the Grove. I wanted my girls to grow up Rebels. The first year in the Grove was a big change from our RV with televisions, a kitchen and bathrooms. I really missed the TV. Technology was very different in 2001, but I had an idea to use the same satellite system from our RV in the Grove. I stole my girl’s little red wagon, loading a bulky TV, car battery and satellite receiver on it. Next, I brought the tripod dish from our RV and hooked it up in the Grove. I think I was either the first or among the first to bring television to the Grove.
Every year became a little more addictive, trying to build a better TV cart or a fancier tent. The best part is my girls were all into the process. They wanted to help build. They started planning our family tailgates in early summers, and they still are constantly coming up with new ideas. At some point the madness had expanded to a 48″x72″ cart with a huge box holding four televisions and supplies. It was way out of hand at times, but the tailgate became such a great family bond. Moving into the Grove was easily one of the best choices that my wife and I ever made for our family. Our tailgate is something that we have always and still do together as a family.
Several years ago the TV manufacturing world invented flat screen TVs. This certainly called for a major renovation to our Grove Satellite system. I challenged my girls to come up with ideas. I always told my girls that one hour on any campus during a Saturday Game would tell you everything that you need to know about the school, its alumni, and fans. People come from all over trying to explain the magic in the Grove seven Saturdays in the fall. Some call it “the greatest tailgate”. Some call it “a bucket list experience.” The Grove is so unique because any preparation or expectations are always exceeded, and not many outside of the Ole Miss family have ever been able to truly explain the experience.
I knew that our tailgate should not only be functional but also say something about the magic of this place. The new Oxford phone books had just been delivered to my house with a picture of the Lyceum Building on the front cover. My middle daughter picked up the picture and said let’s build this. She said nothing represents Ole Miss more than the Lyceum. With limited skills, I framed a replica Lyceum on my 48’x72′ cart. Lee Ann and my oldest daughter actually drove to campus and measured exact dimensions, painting the tailgate machine to exact standards brick by brick. I attached the four flat screens and rolled it out to the Grove for the first game. It was like this machine was a part of our family. My girls affectionately started calling it the “Grove Assault Vehicle.” I later shortened that to GAVY. Since then we have changed several functions and added ideas, but the foundation has always stayed the same.
HottyToddy.com: Who are the regular participants in the Bauer family tent?
Ty Bauer: The Bauer Family tent became GAVY’s Gang about 8 years ago. So many of our friends and family wanted to participate in the tailgate, everything from food to helping pick out beverage assortment (you may know that each pillar in GAVY also functions as a working drink dispenser). One of our oldest college friends, Sherita Sekul and her husband Bob, started the GAVY’s Gang Facebook page for communication and pictures. Today our group consists of my family, old college friends, my kids’ friends, and several of Lee Ann’s high school friends from Desoto County who have children at Ole Miss now. We pretty much so welcome everyone. Our favorite thing is to welcome opposing fans to the Grove. We have met so many great friends from other schools and enjoyed their company.
HottyToddy.com: Where is the location of your tent, and how did you select it?
Ty Bauer: On any Saturday in the Grove you can find GAVY on University Ave near the stage directly across the street from the Hotty Toddy Potties, or in campus terms across from Biology. Ironically, that is also the location of Lee Ann and my first date back in 1986. We were both students, and I asked her to a game. Several of our friends tailgated in the Grove in that spot. However, back then the Grove was full of cars, not tents. You can find a picture of that first date on the Facebook page. We recently celebrated the 30 year anniversary at the Wofford Game.
HottyToddy.com: What is your history with Ole Miss (in general) as well as the other principals?
Ty Bauer: Both Lee Ann and I were students at Ole Miss is the late 80’s, where we met. I graduated in 1988. Our middle daughter, Jordan, graduated from Ole Miss in 2014, and our youngest plans to enroll in couple of years. Several of our gang is made of old fraternity brothers and college friends. Lee Ann’s Desoto County friends are most ex-high school cheerleader friends that have kids at Ole Miss now. A couple of or Desoto county kids are currently ole Miss cheerleaders and band members.
HottyToddy.com: What is the game-day menu, typically at the GAVY’s Gang tent?
Ty Bauer: Our game day menu fun is mostly about the drink dispensers. We all get together and cater food from different locations. It seems that every Monday before a game I start getting requests for drinks in the six columns on GAVY. My rule has always been the middle columns always have to be red and blue. By Wednesday, I usually have received several emails, texts, and Facebook messages with ideas.
HottyToddy.com: Have y’all ever had any celebrities or well-known athletes come by? Would you mind naming a few for our readers?
Ty Bauer: Over the years we have hosted so many people. We have been featured on CBS, ESPN, SEC NEtwork, Tailgating Superstars, and several other TV shows. My interview with Kayley Hartung from the SEC Network a couple of years ago was a real highlight (it is on the Facebook page). We are very close to the drop-off for ESPN Gameday and the Stage, so several big names have wandered in over the years. One of my favorite weekends was hosting four Nashville Predator Hockey players, including Shae Webber.
HottyToddy.com: Describe the most humorous incident that comes to mind?
Ty Bauer: I will never forget running back to the tent to celebrate the Alabama victory in 2014. At some point one of the goal posts emerged from the sidewalk across the street coming from the stadium carried by what looked to be a whole fraternity. This one little guy was perched up on the rail like a squirrel on a tree. Up stairs, over bumps, even start/stops this little guy held on like a bird on a limb. It seemed impossible, but he just did not fall. I will always remember that little guy surfing the goalpost towards the square.
HottyToddy.com: What about any other memorable moment?
Ty Bauer: Every week gives me so many memories that I will never forget. Some of the best times in my life have happened there. We have been so lucky to host so many friends and family members, even luckier to meet so many new friends there. It has been such a joy to watch my girls grow up there. Probably one of my favorite memories is when Lee Ann went into labor at the Ole Miss game in October 2000. By half time her contractions had gotten about 2 minutes apart. We took the East Club Elevator down to find Ms. Candi Williams working the gate (Candi is an Ole Miss favorite in the Ticket office still today). Candi loaded us on a golf cart and set out for the hospital. Luckily we found a car and made it thanks to her. Still today she comes to the tent every October to hug my daughter that she helped deliver.
HottyToddy.com: Your permanent residence (and the other regulars) is where?
Ty Bauer: Oxford
HottyToddy.com: Do any of you have second homes in Oxford?
Ty Bauer: Sherita and Bob just purchased a condo in Oxford, and several of our Desoto County friends have second homes here.
HottyToddy.com: Your view on the rules and regulations for setting up
tents on Game Day? (if applicable)
Ty Bauer: As you can imagine over the past 16 years I have seen it all on set up night. Currently the University has a gentleman named Michael Thompson who is saddled with the impossible task of regulating the Grove and set up. As I have gotten to know Michael and his staff, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate his efforts. Michael simply gets it when it comes to Ole Miss. He makes every effort to treat everyone equally fair and protect their enjoyment of the Grove. It is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Michael and his staff come very close.
HottyToddy.com: If Ole Miss were to change anything about the tailgating experience, what would you recommend?
Ty Bauer: One of the biggest changes that Michael Thompson brought was the ability to communicate with the University. Michael, thru websites and organizations, works very hard to level the playing field for all fans to enjoy their experience in Oxford. I would recommend that anyone unhappy take advantage of the open communication and Michael’s willingness to help.
HottyToddy.com: How early in the week do you start preparing for the Saturday event?
Ty Bauer: Your question is a little short. We start preparing for GAVY in May. That is the rebuild, modification, and repainting starts. We will start putting tents together and planning weekends. Game week almost everything is ready and it becomes an issue of execution on our already planned ideas. Thru the summer we stockpile drinks, canned food and frozen foods. When everything comes out of storage, we are ready to go. The real fun is Saturday dry runs by my pool with GAVY in June, July and August. Football teams practice and so do we.
HottyToddy.com: How do you divide the duties among the participants?
Ty Bauer: We are lucky that our group has so many different talents. We have girls who love to decorate, so we get out of their way. We have some high tech friends who like to take pics, post video and run webpages. We also have many that we just throw in where needed. At the end of the day, I can survive with a tent and a solo cup. Everything else is basically gravy.
HottyToddy.com: What is your zenith enjoyment from all of this work?
Ty Bauer: The 48 x 72 GAVY cart weighs about 300 lbs. Pushing it in and out along with loading tables, coolers, chairs is brutal, and I am getting old. Last game against Memphis, we hosted a sweet sixteen party for my daughter, Olivia (who was born at a Ole Miss game almost – definitely conceived at a bowl game). As we started decorating the tent and setting up TVs, i noticed the prettiest little girl playing in the tent next door. She seemed to be around 5 years old or so decked out in rebel gear with her hair in pony tail. I realized that my girls had grown up in a blink of an eye. It seemed like yesterday that Olivia was running around my tent like that little girl, but that day she was turning 16. Now all of my girls are fighting over who gets to own GAVY after I retire. The Zenith for me is knowing the gift that I gave my girls by passing these traditions to them. My joy is seeing them embrace these traditions as I have. That is what Ole Miss is to me, and any work or effort that we have done as a family is not work in my book. It was a great memorable experience, and I have had the pleasure of doing that seven times each fall with so many people that I love.
Enjoy our previous Tailgating Traditions Stories from this season!
Meggie Carter is a HottyToddy.com writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.