Guest Post written by Geoff Walker, Principle of WalkerRun Events

Tailgate parties are an American tradition combining social interaction, friendly competition, and of course food and drink. Parties range from the simple and basic, to the delectable and full throttle.Tailgating parties have been a long standing tradition particularly at college and professional football games, but they can also be found at other events, including baseball, basketball, youth tournaments, and even weddings.  But football is the sport synonymous with tailgating and many have taken it to levels of effort that rival their day jobs!

Tailgates can turn into all-day affairs, often starting early in the morning and lasting long after the game is over. In many venues a serious tailgater can line up his or her RV for days to get the perfect location to host their party.  This takes serious commitment and that kind of commitment usually results in a party you don’t want to miss!

Food and beverages are the heart of tailgate parties.  Regional tastes and traditions can be found everywhere you go.  Can you match the food & drink pair with the tailgating city below?

Sushi & WinePhiladelphia
Salmon Burgers & Coffee DrinksBoston
Hush Puppies & Sweet TeaSan Diego
Clam Chowder & MicrobrewsSeattle
Cheese Steaks & PilsnersKansas City
Brats & Marzen BeersSan Francisco
Carne Asada & Mexican BeerAtlanta
BBQ Ribs & BudweiserChicago

Chicken is always a favorite! I’ve experienced grilled, fried, baked, roasted, shredded, and as an ingredient in salads, sandwiches, nachos and countless other dishes.  Right here on the you can find a great recipe for Fabulous Fried Chicken that is sure to add style and taste to your party.  Holly makes hers boneless and skinless, so it’s the perfect finger food! is also a great resource for all things sports, perfect for the female persuasion. This post for 17 Unique Chicken Wing recipes is one to keep handy. Unique and interesting fare can also make your party stand out.  Here’s an idea that’s making the rounds and getting people talking. The Pulled Pork Sundae from

There is no wrong or right way to tailgate, but here are a few Tailgating Essentials:

Décor and Atmosphere

  • Team flags, banners, colors
  • Tables, chairs, canopies, area rugs
  • Blankets, heaters, fans appropriate for weather conditions
  • Stuffed mascots, creative or themed items to personalize your experience and announce your space


  • Simple and easy/theme-based/exotic and unique
  • Hearty Food – Fried Chicken, Ribs, Burgers, Pasta
  • Snacks – Chips & Salsa, Finger Foods, Pretzels, Deviled Eggs
  • Dessert – Sweet and Savory

Cooking and Coolers

  • Grilling/Cooking/Basting/Roasting/Curing device(s)
  • Keep your food safe and your beers cold with multiple coolers and lots of ice for both cooling beverages and serving in drinks
  • Set up strategically so everything is comfortable and accessible

Beverages – alcoholic and non-alcoholic

  • Beer, wine, specialty/themed drinks
  • Sodas and lots of water
  • Hot drinks for those cold fall or winter games

Serving Items

  • Plates, bowls, utensils, serving spoons, warmers
  • Cups or glassware to suit your beverage needs
  • Consider compostable materials but consider what you’re serving to make sure they can handle the food and drinks


  • Games – Cornhole, Ladder Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Beer Pong
  • Keg stands – not for the uninitiated
  • Cook-off competitions – best ribs, BBQ, chili, etc.
  • Cocktail mixing competitions
  • Wine tasting


  • Television – the bigger, the better if you want to draw a crowd and watch other games
  • Music – dancing and singing may be encouraged
  • Face painting, temporary tattoos, or other team-supporting activities
  • Cheerleaders, Mascots, Band – bring a home team vibe to your party

Cleanup – Leave the place better than you found it

  • Dispose of trash, recycling, bottles and compost
  • Understand of local laws and regulations
  • Stadium or team regulations

Happy Tailgating, I’ll see you in the parking lot…

Geoff Walker is the principle of WalkerRun Events and is a freelance event producer. Geoff has over twenty-five years of event management experience with brands like Microsoft, RealNetworks, T-Mobile and others.  He performed as a professional mascot with the San Francisco 49ers and has Produced dozens of NFL, NBA and Collegiate events, as well as music and entertainment projects around the world.  Geoff can be reached at or at a tailgate party around Washington State Cougar country!