7 Tips to Host a Successful Cowboy or Sooner Tailgate

No matter if you bleed orange or red, we can all agree tailgate season is a revered time in an Okie’s life. While there are many differences between the Cowboys and Sooners, there are also many similarities, one of them being their love for tailgating. Super fans from both teams love their school, talking football, enjoying each other’s company, and most importantly, the delicious food.

Tailgate Guidelines

If you’re completely new to tailgating, we recommend to research campus tailgating policies before you plan a tailgate. Making sure you set up tent in a prime, open location will be an important part to getting your tailgate off the ground.

Are you a Cowboy?

Click here for OSU campus tailgating policies.

The popular Orange Power chant is shouted proudly at every game, thanks to Mr. Orange Power, Lee Redick, who revived the chant. “We were on the last row of the upper deck, so I asked all the alumni in our two sections if they’d like to do ORANGE POWER.  They said yes and it took right off,” Redick said. “I directed it with my hands for four days while we played Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and then Kansas as a fifth seed!”

Are you a Sooner?

See here for OU campus tailgating policies.

If you’re new to town, don’t be alarmed by the shouts echoing around Norman during football season. It just wouldn’t be right to walk around the stadium without hearing the Boomer Sooner chant. Just remember, if you here a loud “BOOMER”, you’d best yell “SOONER!”

If you’re a tailgating newbie or leading a tailgate of your own this year, you should tuck these tips in your back pocket before embarking on the ultimate tailgate.

  1. Create a Community

Many fans enjoy tailgating, because it’s a time to bond with others who have similar passions. They have a love for the game, the players, and the town.

“Tailgating is a great way to hang with new friends and, for me, to catch up with old college friends,” Jordan Cole, OU tailgate host, said. “I love that you never know who will show up.”

Lauren Neundorf, an OSU fan, loves the community feel on game days. “There are no strangers, whether you’re in orange and black or the opposing school’s team colors, there’s always a cold beer or extra bratwurst for you!”

“My favorite tailgating tradition is walking through the rows upon rows of tailgates – it’s a great way to smell what everyone else is cooking and check in on different games on their TVs,” John Jennings, OU fan and blogger at Bennie and Buds, said.

  1. Have Something Unique You’re Known For

OSU’s Orange Power (OP) tailgate is known for their “Gone Wild” tradition. Many of the tailgate hosts are hunters, so late in October or November, they have a tailgate with wild game like elk, moose, and deer.

At OU, there are many chili cookoffs among the tailgating tents before kickoff. “My favorite tradition is the chili cook-off,” John Politte, OU fan and tailgate host, said. “For the last home game of the year, a bunch of different families make their own chili to contribute to the cook-off. We usually have up to ten different kinds, and it is always great to eat all the different takes on chili.”

While chili is always a hit, others favor sweeter traditions.

“Our tailgate always has festive OSU cookies,” Neundorf said. “People love the sweets to end the meal and never turn one down!”

  1. Assign Duties and Roles for Tailgate Hosts

While one host family might try to do it all, it’s hard to handle alone. It’s a good idea to have a few families involved and assign different roles so that it remains fun for everyone involved, and never a cause for stress.

Redick is one of the many forces behind the OP tailgate. He is the social director, and others handle DJing, operations, or other duties. “Dave and Storm are our grill masters,” Redick said.

  1. Entertain and Welcome Every Football Fan

Tailgating is not the time to be bashful. Get ready to meet your new family. While we don’t recommend crashing a private tent without an invitation – we do encourage you to smile, meet your tailgate neighbors, and be ready to share a burger or brew with a new friend.

“Our tailgate is very welcoming to our visitors. We have people call us from West Virginia asking if we are still in same spot and come back each year,” Redick said. “Just about everyone knows our tailgate, and we like to socialize with our opponents. It’s fun.”

“It’s a bunch of friends at the core of it. We love OSU, socializing, and providing a place for others to have a good time too,” Ruth Inman, OSU regular tailgate host, said. “The three main dads love entertaining and providing fun for other people.”

While others might not personally choose to set up their own tailgate, they are open to people using their space to host a great tailgate. “My roommate and I let a group of tailgaters set up in our lawn during gamedays,” said Jake Kallsen, an OU grad. “If there was an early game time, they’d make a full-on brunch. Breakfast tacos, cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole…it was awesome.”

  1. Change Up Your Tailgate Food and Drink Menu

Many tailgating traditions that remain the most popular revolve around the tailgate food. While it’s great to have a tried-and-true menu, the routine can get boring, so it is nice to change it on occasion while keeping the crowd pleasers.

The Inmans and Baumgardners take it to another level and change their menu each week with a full theme. “Food is a big focus of what we do,” Inman said. “We have a different theme and menu every single week. In winter, we do a shrimp boil or gumbo and things that aren’t as traditional.”

  1. Go Big or Go Home

Having a noteworthy tailgate takes a lot of effort and commitment. Neundorf shares how her mom is sure to bring table cloths, matching plates, cutlery, and napkins to every tailgate. “You can find almost anything practical in orange, which is slightly impractical,” she said.

Other tailgates go above and beyond when it comes to entertainment. “We hire a band every week,” Inman said. “We tell people to listen for the music and you’ll find us.”

If a band isn’t in the budget, themed décor, a themed playlist, and simply cheering loudly can get you far in the tailgate game without much spending.

  1. Remember the Reason Behind the Fun

Redick may bleed orange, but that doesn’t keep him from recognizing the hard work of the team. While he lives for a solid win, he cares more about supporting the players.

“We are there to support our team. I like to remind people these are 18- and 19-year-old kids. Win or lose, we are just there to support them. We want to win but want to do everything we can to help them out.”

Put on a game day shirt and a good attitude – remember to support your team, win or lose. At the end of the day you still get to tailgate.

Why We Tailgate

People tailgate each year for a host of reasons. It might be for their love of the game, to enjoy other’s company, or to entertain.

When asked why they host tailgates, Mr. Orange Power says it’s the camaraderie. He explains how they enjoy reuniting each year. “It’s been since December that we’ve seen each other last,” he said.

For the Inmans, their tailgate is extra special because of the large part it has played in the history of their relationship: meeting at a tailgate and getting engaged at one. “It’s a big tradition in our family and we build our fall schedule around it,” Inman said.

Not a Tailgater?

That’s okay – sometimes it’s easier (but still fun) to walk around campus and explore!

Game Day Spots for the Non-Tailgaters: Stillwater

The Strip, the intersection of Duck and Elm, and surrounding areas are full of wonderful game day gathering places. Whether you are feeling some cheese fries, a beef dog, or some chips and queso, all your football foodie dreams can come true in Stillwater.

Eskimo Joe’s

Coney Island

Curty Shack

Fuzzys

Game Day Spots for the Non-Tailgaters: Norman

For those non-tailgaters, no need to fret. Campus Corner is loaded with gameday vibes and delicious food without the effort tailgating entails. The environment is equally as fun inside many restaurants.

The Mont

O’Connells

Louie’s

Diamond Dogs

Recipe Ideas for Your Next Tailgate

If your stomach isn’t growling after all this talk of chili-cook offs, burgers, chips and queso, and more, something must be wrong! We are so ready for the season and all the delicious treats that come with it.

Homeland has all the essentials you need for your tailgate. We have the chips, baked goods, fresh meats, and more. Looking for some inspiration? Check out these recipes we created for tailgating season.