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Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Tupelo Tent

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The Tailgating Traditions of the “Tupelo Tent” 
An Interview with Elizabeth Hamm by HottyToddy.com
Enjoy the ninth 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!)

tailgate billboard 176x512img_2170-2HottyToddy.com: The Tupelo Tent has been tailgating for a long time, tell us about the history.

Elizabeth Hamm: Some members of our tent have been tailgating since the days of driving your cars into the Grove. There were children tossing footballs and climbing trees in a very relaxed atmosphere. Others have joined in on the tailgate fun when their child chose to attend Ole Miss. My family has been tailgating the last 27 years. Our tent came together from three different groups in Tupelo who happened to be tailgating in the same vicinity in the Grove. Tupelo is a wonderful blend of native Tupelo residents, transplants and newcomers. Our tent is diversified in the same manner. We have old friends and have made many new ones through our tailgate. More friends, more fun!

HottyToddy.com: Who are the regular participants?

Elizabeth Hamm: We have approximately 30 families represented in our tent. A few families may rotate in or out each year if they have a child entering or leaving Ole Miss; however, the majority have tailgated together for years.

HottyToddy.com: Where is the location of your tent, and how did you select it?

Elizabeth Hamm: We are located just east of the corner of Willis and Metcalfe. Really we are between the bandstand and the Union. Even though it can get crowded at times, no one has wanted to relocate. SevenSouth and Kyle Thornton is wonderful and works diligently to get us in our same location each game.

HottyToddy.com: What is your history with Ole Miss (in general) as well as other principals?

Elizabeth Hamm: Michelle and Robert McAuley, Stehpanie and Stewart Maxcy, and my husband, Jeff Hamm, and I are the coordinating members of our tailgate. Michelle, Robert and their children attended Ole Miss as well as Robert’s father and Robert’s siblings. Stephanie, Stewart and their daughter attended Ole Miss as well as Stewart’s two brothers. My husband’s family has been cheering on the Rebels for four generations, back to the days when his grandfather served as secretary of the Alumni Association and later as business manager for the athletic department. Two of our children attended Ole Miss and another child attend law school at the university. Rebel roots run deep at our tent!

HottyToddy.com: What is the game day menu typically at the Tupelo tent?

Elizabeth Hamm: We are thankful to have Sweet Tea, and Biscuits of Tupelo caters our tailgate. For years, we all made different family favorites and brought them to the Grove. When the parking and traffic situation changed a few years ago, we went to having our tailgate catered. Our caterer provides a menu; however, she takes our special recipes when requested. When the temperature is hot, we pay close attention to what we order and how long it is in the heat. We sometimes will incorporate a theme like Cajun, Tex Mex or down home Southern. We have had Jambalaya, Texas Beef Brisket, mac and cheese, fruit, tomato and avocado salsa, hummus, tons of Chic-fil-A chicken nuggets and Whiskey Whoopie pie cookies! We treat ourselves to Mary McGuire’s Bakery Rebel decorated cookies and petit fours!

HottyToddy.com: Have y’all ever had any celebrities or well-known athletes come by?

Elizabeth Hamm: We have had Coach Billy Brewer stop by and most recently had Ben Stein and his wife (Farris Bueller’s Day Off) stop for a visit before doing the “ARE YOU READY ?” before the Auburn game.

HottyToddy.com: Describe the most humorous incident that comes to mind?

Elizabeth Hamm: My children have been tailgating since birth. We looked up one game and could not locate our 3-year-old son in our tailgate. Panic set in until we noticed he was sitting in a chair a few tailgates away enjoying their food! It was only funny after we found him!

HottyToddy.com: What about memorable moments?

Elizabeth Hamm: There are special moments each has, but undoubtedly having game day right across the lane from us when we beat ALABAMA in 2014 and Katy Perry picked OLE MISS. The Grove was electric and we never ran out of food!

HottyToddy.com: Your permanent residence?

Elizabeth Hamm: Everyone in our tent resides in the Tupelo area.

HottyToddy.com: Do any of you have second homes in Oxford?

Elizabeth Hamm: Several of us do have homes. Maybe 20 percent.

HottyToddy.com: Your view on the rules and regulations for setting up tents on Game Day?

Elizabeth Hamm: I think at this point, I have no complaints. I would caution the university to find ways to keep it family friendly and accessible. Many young families may not have the means to get here late on a Friday and set up a tent or be able to afford the cost of hiring a service to do so. There are so many wonderful memories that are made on weekends at Ole Miss, and I hope that the generations to come have the same opportunity.

HottyToddy.com: If Ole Miss were to change anything about the tailgating experience, what you recommend?

Elizabeth Hamm: I can’t think of anything at this time.

HottyToddy.com: How early in the week do you start preparing for the Saturday event?

Elizabeth Hamm: In July Stephanie, Michelle and I formulate a budget for the season based on the number of families. The Sunday before the Saturday game, a text goes out to get approximate number of guests for the upcoming game. Once we have that, we place our catering order by Tuesday. We place our cookie order at the beginning of the season.

HottyToddy.com: How do you divide the duties?

Elizabeth Hamm: Each family takes one Saturday per season to be hostess. We have about four hostesses a game. Each hostess group is responsible for flower arrangements, table cloths, paper products, menu, ordering the chicken and picking up our Rebel cookies. We added fans to the tent this year, so someone makes sure we have extension cords or if a late game, that we have lights. It gives everyone the opportunity to help in an area they enjoy! I like doing flower arrangements….and my husband has gotten more patient with me through the years when I ask him to stop on the way to the game to pick a wildflower on the side of the road.

HottyToddy.com: What is your zenith enjoyment from all of this work?

Elizabeth Hamm: The zenith is when you see everyone visiting, laughing, smiling, enjoying delicious food and making memories….topped off with a Rebel win, of course! It all comes back to food, families, football and fun!

HottyToddy.com: Thank you Elizabeth Hamm for sharing your story!img_2171img_2172img_2175img_2174img_2173

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Enjoy our previous Tailgating Traditions Stories from this season!

Week 1: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Looser Family 

Week 2: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: “The Real Thing” Tent

Week 3: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The “Zebra Tent”

Week 4: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: Jim’s Place In The Grove

Week 5: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Cossar Family Tent

Week 6: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: “Our Spot That Ever Calls” 

Week 7: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: Arizona Rebels

Week 8: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Bauer Family and “GAVY’s Gang” Tent

Week 9: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: “Tailgaters With Attitude” Tent


Randall Haley is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at randall.haley@hottytoddy.com.

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