Photo by John Lawless

The Chaotic Art of Tailgating: Florida vs. Georgia

Words by Carson Rich

The unhinged nature of tailgating before a sporting event is chaotic enough, but for Jacksonville, the month of October brings this event to the next level. The annual meeting of the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs is a timeless Southern tradition with a whole year of bragging rights on the line. The game itself is always a great time, but for fans and locals, it’s the atmosphere surrounding it that unleashes the mayhem. 

 

The “Florida Georgia game” as most like to call it, is historically one of college football’s most heated rivalries, bringing about some of the most viciously entertaining games a sports fan could watch. From the glory days for the Gators carried by legendary QB Tim Tebow to today’s unstoppable force of the Bulldogs, this one game has always proven itself as a spectacle that is sure to have everyone on the edge of their seats. The location, EverBank Stadium, curates a gargantuan moshpit of red and blue, clashing into each other at a perfect meeting spot between the teams’ hometowns of Gainesville and Athens, Georgia.. 

 

The origins of tailgating are believed to have been during the Battle of Bull Run in 1861, where supportive Union members came to the battlefield with baskets of different foods to enjoy themselves before the fighting began. When college football games became popular, the tradition really “kicked off” with fans of the sport gathering food and friends to hang out using the tailgate of their truck as a catering table, hence the name. Since then, tailgating has been through a gradual evolution over the past century due to the rise in popularity of college partying. With major influence from college fraternities in the 2010s, it has grown into more of a private event, where there are now cover charges, hired DJs and performers and even brand sponsorships that play into it. 

 

Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on the venues, alcohol, speakers, food and anything else that could bring a better turnout. Circling back to the Florida Georgia game, the amount of money being put into these tailgates have reached an excessive point to some people, with places having prices for admission rising to triple digits. Now most would hear that and think that makes it not worth it anymore, but as someone who has experienced this pandemonium, I would ask you to rethink your answer. 

 

University of North Florida fraternities play into this every year, chauffeuring hundreds of students on buses from campus to rented out parking spaces near the stadium. After purchasing an admission band and a “liquor band,” there is an enormous amount of catered food and alcohol offered at no additional cost, music and a great time with loads of people.  Buses leave back right when the game is about to start, and everything is back to normal. At any other place, this would burn a substantial hole into your wallet, just on the drinks alone. But at “Florida Georgia”, you get a ride there and back, as much food and drinks as you can fill your body with, and hundreds of new faces to meet, all for around $50-100. Sounds like a pretty good deal if you ask me. 

 

Tailgating before a sporting event is not just about food and drinks, however, it is about rivalry and camaraderie. As stated before, Florida-Georgia is one of the biggest rivalries the game has seen, and the fans bring it to life. Thousands of people are chomping and barking at one another, making new friends and enemies along the way. At the end of the day, tailgating is what brings people together, no matter what colors they are wearing. So, when the Gators and Bulldogs face off in Jacksonville, it’s not just a football game—it’s a masterpiece of tradition, flavor and sportsmanship. It’s a living, breathing work of art that captures the essence of the South and its undying love for the game.

About Carson Rich

Throughout his childhood, you could always find Carson Rich with his eyes glued to the screen watching Sportcenter every morning before school. Now as an aspiring sports journalist at Folio Weekly, he looks to take after the people he used to look up to. Even when he is not writing about sports, he's usually at home binging old highlights or catching up on the latest news in sports.