Tailgating Goes Upscale

Each fall weekend, football fans pour onto college campuses to cheer their favorite teams to victory. Many of these rabid followers arrive well ahead of kickoff, prepared with a feast fit for an offensive line: Meats sizzling on the grill, chili simmering in a Crock-Pot and a cornucopia of side dishes and munchies. But with so much grub and so little space, where’s a serious tailgater to stake out?

Not surprisingly, the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization of motor home enthusiasts, discovered that a growing number of tailgaters believe a mobile home is the ideal spot to host portable parties. Okay, we admit that typical motor homes don’t have a traditional tailgate, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make ideal tailgating vehicles. Just extend the awning, pull out the tables and chairs, fire up the grill and roll out the coolers.

A motor home also obviously offers amenities not found in cars: electrical power, storage, onboard cooking appliances, refrigeration and restrooms. Many motor homes have sophisticated outdoor entertainment centers with big-screen satellite TVs and high-quality sound systems -- perfect for watching other games pre- or post-main event.

Because mobile home owners typically park together at home games and travel together for away games, the FMCA launched several chapters for tailgating members loyal to a particular school. The FMCA says the groups broaden the support of scholarship fundraising at the school; they additionally host a prime rib dinner for coaches’ wives, organize away-game caravans and support rallies for university athletic activities.

Since the 1996 launch of Clemson’s IPTAY chapter, FMCA’s first tailgating group, several other motor home-owning football fanatics have started FMCA tailgating chapters of their own, including fans at the University of South Carolina, the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State University and the University of Oklahoma. The groups often combine their love of football and travel into one event: When Virginia Tech faced Boise State in Landover, Md., Virginia Tech’s “Hokie Travelers” took a trip together a few days in advance to sightsee in Washington, D.C. The various chapters also gather at rallies throughout the year to talk recruiting, discuss why the head coach is a genius (or should be fired immediately) and to relive memories.

So if you own a motor home but have yet to discover its value as a tailgating machine, fill the coolers, pack the refrigerator and set up your own party palace the next time you root on your favorite team. You just might make a few new friends while you’re at it.


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