Every year, experts will rank the best tailgating spots in the country. Every year Ole Miss and its legendary 10 acre tailgating spot, known as The Grove, are at the top of these lists. If you have spent a game day in The Grove, you will understand why. There is truly no place like it in the country. I had my first taste of an Ole Miss game day back in 2010. It was a 1 o’clock kickoff against Jacksonville State. For most Ole Miss fans this was your average game day in The Grove. Ever since that trip, I have been eager to return to experience The Grove for a night game against a big time opponent. This past weekend, I was there for an 8:15pm kickoff with the University of Texas.
Before you continue this post, take a look back at my first trip. I thought that with one trip under my belt, I would be prepared for a game with The Grove at its best. Looking back, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I saw. I can now say that I have seen the Grove at its best. When The Grove is at its best, I don’t think there is any better place to spend a game day.
This is not your traditional tailgating environment. Pre game activity occurs on campus in a 10 acre green space known as The Grove and across the street in a circle area in front of The Lyceum. There are no assigned spots and no tailgating from cars. Game day is spent under a tent in The Grove and the surrounding green space.
This is what the Grove looks like at 7 pm on Friday before kickoff. Hundreds of students have been camped out all day saving their spots. They are eagerly awaiting for The Grove to open.
At 9pm The Grove officially opens and the land grab begins.
You aren’t allowed to have any tailgating equipment on campus before 9pm. To ensure their spot, fans will leave their cars and run with their tents. In 20 minutes, the Grove will be covered in tents. Fans then return home to finish their preparations for the next day. If you can’t make it to The Grove the night before to set up your tent, there are many companies that you can pay to do this for you.
Here is what The Grove looks like on game day morning.
Throughout the morning, I saw tailgaters arrive with flower arrangements, decorations, food spreads, and even glass chandeliers.
Wherever possible, fans tried to show their team spirit with team themed decorations.
For this game, leaving a message to the competition was a common decorating theme.
The food you will find at Ole Miss isn’t your traditional tailgating fare. Inside The Grove, you aren’t allowed to have an open flame (no propane). You will see some tailgaters on the outer edges grilling with charcoal, but the close proximity of the tents leads guests to set up beautiful displays of heavy appetizers and prepared food from home. Here were two of my favorite displays.
This group of Texas fans made to show that they could rival any tailgating spread in the Grove.
Attire in The Grove is formal in nature.
There were plenty of girls wearing Ole Miss inspired dresses
and guys and dogs with bow ties.
Mixed within the sea of blue and red was a healthy dose of cowboy hats and Texas Burnt Orange.
To give you an idea of what game day is like when The Grove is at its best take a look at this before picture.
Here is the same location a few hours later.
Words can’t describe what it was like walking around, so hopefully this pictures will give you an idea.
Two hours before kickoff, the players made their way down the Walk of Champions towards the stadium.
After the walk, The Grove was in full swing. Thousands of Texas and Ole Miss fans were enjoying their pregame festivities. As fans made their way to the stadium it was my time to leave.