Football season kicks off next weekend and fans across the country are preparing their tailgate to-do lists and checking their equipment for the pre-game festivities. And, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), when it comes to tailgating, this season, Americans are more likely to tailgate at professional football games (27%) than any other type of event, such as outdoor concerts (19%) and college football games (15%). So, clean up that portable grill, smoker or fryer, grab all the essentials for a finger-licking good time and get your team together to help get this year’s tailgating season off to a winning start.
“What better way to kick-off game day than bringing together friends and family for a tailgate? From the rookie to the pro tailgater, everyone should always start with a game plan and the right equipment and tools,” says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA Communications Director. “A portable grill, smoker or fryer is a must for a successful tailgate, and coming to the stadium prepared with all the essentials will ensure a touchdown every time.”
Getting your tailgating season off to a good start with all your barbecue-on-the-go tools in order guarantees a winning cookout at all the games. HPBA has the following game day plan for the perfect kickoff:
• Know the Rules: Know the tailgating rules for your stadium before game day. Are grills, smokers and fryers allowed? What time do the parking lot gates open for tailgaters?
• Morning Practice: Create a tailgate checklist so you won’t forget your gear, including food, drinks, grill, smoker or fryer, grilling accessories, chairs, table, cooler and paper goods.
• Equipment Check: You can’t play the game without the ball, and you can’t cook without the grill, smoker or fryer. Make sure your ‘equipment’ works properly before getting to the stadium. You’ll also want to bring your favorite outdoor cooking accessories, like tongs, and plenty of paper goods for serving.
• Be a Team Player: Score big with your friends by bringing a variety of foods to throw on the grill, smoker or fryer, as well as lots of drinks and water, so that there’s something for everyone, including kids, vegetarians and those who may just want a snack.
• Pre-Game Prep: Prep and marinate meat ahead of time and keep on ice during transportation to ensure freshness (and safety). Arrive early to start up the grill so that it’s fired-up by the time other tailgaters arrive.
• Go the Extra Yard: You’ve got the grill and the food, but don’t forget about tailgating entertainment, like an iPod*, MP3 player or other device for parking lot music; generator to power a TV for pre-game coverage; or even boy-toys like a football, frisbee or Cornhole Set for activities to play before the game starts.
• Clean-up Blitz: Before heading into the stadium, make sure the grill is completely extinguished; coals are cooled and disposed of or, for gas, propane tank is off, and you’ve cleaned up your tailgating area. Many stadiums provide metal trash cans to place used charcoal. However, if you are tailgating at a stadium that does not, it is always a good idea to bring your own small metal can to place cooled coals.
• Practice Makes Perfect: After you and your guests deemed the tailgate a success and the game is over, go home and ‘review the tapes’. Did the new marinade you used work? Do you have enough charcoal, propane, etc. for next week’s tailgate? Take what you learn from each tailgate and apply it to the next to be the champion of the tailgating season.
*For a great digital grilling cookbook to create awesome tailgating dishes, check out Weber’s Time to Grill available as an eBook for iPhones, iPods and iPads.
For more tailgating tips, resources and recipes, please visit www.hpba.org
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