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New to the South? You’ve probably already noticed that college football is kind of a big deal around here! You’ve also probably seen or heard people talk about tailgating before or during the games. Tailgating used to just mean hanging out around a pickup truck bed, but it has grown and evolved into something so much more exciting. 

It’s often joked that everyone in Alabama, whether you’re born-and-raised or a newcomer, has to officially declare their allegiance to the Tide or the Tigers. Each school and its fans have their own tailgating style, so here’s your guide to tailgating and having a great time.

University of Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Colors: Crimson and white
  • Mascot: Big Al the Elephant
  • Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 

“The Quad” is the centerpiece of UA’s tailgating events. You can usually find three or four generations of family cooking up Alabama BBQ and preparing their tailgating feasts. You’re likely to see tailgating fans with multiple big-screen TVs hooked up to catch the game since the stadium is usually so packed— sometimes with up to 100,000 people! The best part about tailgating in Tuscaloosa? The Tide Nation is known for its kindness and true Southern hospitality. Just make sure to cheer, “Roll Tide!” and you’ll fit right in with the fans. 

Auburn University Tigers

  • Colors: Orange and blue
  • Mascot: Aubie the Tiger
  • Location: Auburn, Alabama 

If you’re in “the loveliest little village on the plains” on a Friday evening, you’ll probably see dozens of RVs and campers from all over the Southeast setting up for tailgating all weekend. You’re also likely to see students and fans marking off their chosen tailgating spot with tape. Why do people arrive so early to tailgate in Auburn? It’s simple: They want to take part in The Tiger Walk! This gameday tradition involved team members being led through the crowd of fans before the game by Auburn’s pep band, cheerleaders, and, of course, their beloved mascot Aubie. Once you have your tailgating spot in Auburn, don’t be surprised if fellow fans invite you over to share some snacks or sit in the shade. Make sure to greet them with a, “War Eagle!”

P.S. Even if you have no real interest in football, tailgating is a Southern tradition you need to experience at least once!