Nothing could prepare me for my first Texas college football tailgate experience.
My host had provided me with the essential fashion decorum for the experience: home team jersey (in royal purple), team hat and logoed sunglasses (that it was a night game did not seem to matter). I politely declined the face paint.
There are very few places on earth where one can find 40-foot RVs, marching bands, open-fire rotisserie grills, costumed super-heroes, 70-inch TV screens and hot tub trailers co-existing side-by-side in a parking lot. Frog Alley on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth is one such place.
I soon discovered that tailgating wasn’t about the elaborate booster club hospitality lounges or the sponsored hydration stations. Even the game itself seemed almost secondary. The essence of a Texas college football tailgate experience are the fans. They are the show. They gather during the late afternoon/early evening because they share a common passion. Football. For several hours you will forever be part of a community of fans celebrating the spirit of competition and fellowship that transcends generations and geography. It is Texas culture 101. You will never forget it.
Here you will find new friends. They’ll invite you to share their fresh grilled brisket (and it will be amazing, because that’s how we roll). They’ll probably throw you a football to see if you can catch. You might even get drafted for an impromptu fight song sing-along. Done right, you’ll not only have great photo memories, your posts from the tailgate might even end up trending.
If it’s true that football in Texas is a religion, then Dallas Fort Worth is the promised land and tailgating is communion. And I am a believer.