Opposing teams act civil off the field when tailgating’s involved.

Opposing teams act civil off the field when tailgating’s involved.

ALBANY, Ga. — It’s that time of year again where Saturdays are filled with food, football fans and fall breezes … well, food and football fans, at least.

Nothing quite captures the spirit of the South like a football game on a warm Saturday — and in keeping with our reputation of Southern hospitality, no one quite knows how to throw a good party like a southerner.

On game day, parking lots near football stadiums become their own fields — a place where opposing teams gather and where devotees take part in the sport we like to call tailgating.

Nowadays, tailgating time has become as much of a tradition as football games themselves. Hours beforehand, fans gather to stake their claim on the perfect spot to celebrate their team — and have a good time. When the players finally arrive — cover your ears, because every car horn within a two-mile radius will be blaring as devoted fans show their support.

And as with any sport, tailgaters show different levels of commitment and finesse. While some adopt a casual approach, others take it to a whole new level. On a typical Saturday, fans are certain to see everything from your basic picnic basket to custom-made trailers loaded with the latest essential grilling gadgets. For the extremists, online companies now offer “ready-to-roll” trailers, outfitted with everything you need for a good grilling session, and personally emblazoned with the logo of your choice.

Or you can make your own, like Alex Brown, who used welding skills to transform a standard car trailer into his personal grilling station.

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Alex Brown created a grilling station on wheels to use on gameday.

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Banks Tate refurbished an old school bus to create a one-of-a-kind Georgia Southern fan-mobile.

Part of the fun of gameday Saturday is socializing with friends again, and also seeing how other fans express their school pride. There are sure to be some creative displays, such as with Georgia Southern alumnus Banks Tate, who rehabilitated a former school bus for the sole purpose of gameday travel. Decked out in GSU’s blue and white colors, there’s no mistaking the loyalty of its owner.

For those who want to plan their trip in advance, many schools now offer “Gameday Gameplans” online, which include the best locations, parking and setup regulations, and resources available in the area from restroom facilities to recycling locations. Some schools have even adopted a “green”approach, with volunteers delivering recyclable bags throughout tailgating areas so as to diminish the amount of waste generated.

So whether you’re between the hedges, at Bobby Dodd Stadium or in your own backyard, fun and refreshment can be had for all. Gameday is a time for food, fun and fellowship. With a few preparations and a winning attitude, the only thing you should have to worry about is the scoreboard.