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Letter from the Editor: An Experience Like No Other

by on September 27, 2018 11:46 AM

It’s difficult to explain the Penn State tailgate culture to “outsiders.”

Most folks who haven’t experienced the festive scene in the parking lots, fields, and pastures around Beaver Stadium before and after a football game have a hard time relating to just how big and over the top it is.

The experience is not for everyone. There is a certain amount of drunken obnoxiousness at times; the occasional rainy, bone-chilling late fall day spent under a canopy in front of a propane heater; and, of course, sometimes long lines at the port-o-potties.

For those of us who love it, however, it’s an experience like no other, and there are few things we’d rather be doing. In trying to explain the deeper reasons why, hard-core tailgaters use words like spirit, energy, community, pride, connection.

The first time my wife and I attended a game together, when our eldest daughter was a freshman at Penn State, we didn’t tailgate – a thought that now seems incomprehensible.

We quickly recovered from that blunder. For the next game, we opened the car trunk and threw in a few beach chairs, a small cooler, a card table, a camp stove, and called it a tailgate.

More than 20 years later, we’ve upped our game substantially. We take pride in being one of the first vehicles in our particular lot. If it’s a noon game, we’re there shortly after 7. Once we’re parked, up goes the blue and white Penn State canopy tent (ubiquitous around the stadium), and out comes the Penn State table cloth, the pin collection, the JoePa bobble head, the PSU chairs, and – you get the picture.

It’s a nice setup, but there are many hundreds of far more elaborate ones spread across the Beaver Stadium lots. We’re talking things like big-screen TVs with satellite hookups and RVs that play the fight song. My favorite: a group that parked near us had converted the back of their pickup truck into a hot tub.

But what’s all that Penn State pride and general zaniness without some good food and drink?

There is lots of that everywhere you turn, and most tailgaters are happy to share. In a special Taste of the Month feature this month, Vilma Shu and Darren Andrew Weimert visit a few of the folks who make the scene outside Beaver Stadium so special – and delicious – on football Saturdays.

 

Mark Brackenbury

Editorial Director

mbrackenbury@barashmedia.com

 

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