By Adam Baker/Editor
Food. Beer. People. These are three essential ingredients for tailgating, according to senior Darrin Winchester.
The fire science major from Decatur, Ill., is also a member of the Association of Fire Science Technicians – an organization he said is “really into tailgating.”
“Tailgating really kind of adds to the whole experience,” he said.
Winchester explained a truck and alcohol are also important elements of tailgating.
“Beer is sort of essential if you’re over 21 (years old),” he said.
Those planning to drink alcohol at the game must be of legal age, and beverages must be consumed in paper or plastic cups – not from original containers, according to university policy modified last year.
Inappropriate behavior is not allowed, and public intoxication laws will be enforced, the policy states. Kegs are also prohibited.
Winchester said he and his friends from AFST plan to arrive Saturday around 1 p.m. because of talk about big crowds.
“Everything will probably get started around 4 or 5 (p.m.), but finding a good spot is important,” he said.
As in past years, Winchester said the group plans to bring a fire truck to the festivities.
“I think that anyone, even if you’re not a football person, can have a good time,” he said.
He noted, however, people should not miss the ball game.
“Too many people are just there for tailgating and don’t go to the game,” he said. “They really miss out.”
Dwight Merilatt, assistant athletics director, said the university would provide many activities for tailgaters.
Aramark will sell food, a live band will provide music, the bookstore will sell souvenirs, and radio stations will be set up to do live remotes, he said. All activities, including the Colonel’s Walk, in which the team walks through Alumni Coliseum parking lot on their way to the stadium, will begin around 5 p.m.
The university will also provide fans with 15,000 cheer sticks, similar to the blowup noisemakers handed out at past home games.
Merilatt expects the crowd to begin filling in around 3 p.m.
He explained general parking on campus is free on game day to anyone. The front half of the Alumni Coliseum parking lot is reserved for students, Merilatt said. The back half is held for Colonel Club booster members. “Tailgating is extremely significant to enhancing school spirit,” he said. “It definitely gets people excited about the football game and gives people an opportunity to socialize before the football game and experience Eastern Kentucky.”
Merilatt suggests bringing good food, activities, “comradery and the spirit of Eastern Kentucky.”
Athletics Director John Shaffer said tailgating is a good way for students and alumni to relax from their busy schedules.
“Students are so involved in their lives, and there’s so much going on that they really don’t have the chance to get together with a large group, and tailgating gives them that opportunity to be there,” he said. “It’s true for alumni, too. Everyone’s life is so busy and fast-paced; it gives them a chance to relax.”
Shaffer said he hasn’t had a chance to really tailgate in past years.
“People offer me some fried chicken or some ribs, and I visit, but not like I would like to,” he said.
Shaffer said it’s important for students and the community to remember to be courteous to others while tailgating – both each other and the opponents.
“We teach our players about sportsmanship, and I would hope everyone would keep that in mind,” he said.
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