Tailgating brings normalcy back to football season

Students celebrate the return of tailgating at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State football announced earlier this year that football tailgating would return this season, and fans are making up for the missed season this past year.

“Tailgating is one of my favorite parts about gameday,” Kel Grafel, senior in agronomy, said. “I forgot how much I missed it when we weren’t able to last year. It just gets me so excited for the game and is a great experience to enjoy with all of your friends.”

(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)
(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

Taylor Esworthy and twin sister Morgan Esworthy have made tailgating a family tradition over the past six years, using the time to hang out with each other, their parents, brother and sister-in-law.

“I love the tradition of tailgating at [the] stadium because I have done it since I grew up and never want the tradition to end,” Taylor Esworthy, sophomore in psychology, said.

(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)
(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

The Esworthy tailgates let the twins see family from out of town that they do not get to regularly.

“I love tailgates for the fact that I get to see my family from Kansas City and Wichita,” Morgan Esworthy, sophomore in elementary education, said.

While some tailgate with family, many college students tailgate with their friends. Grafel, a member of Delta Sigma Phi at K-State, helps plan and prepare for the fraternity’s tailgates.

“My favorite part about game day is getting to socialize with all of my closest friends and to get hyped to cheer on the Cats,” Grafel said. “Nothing can get me ready for a Cat’s gameday like a good tailgate.”

(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)
Tailgaters play a game similar to pong before the game. (Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

Like many K-State fans, Morgan Esworthy found that gamedays were not the same this past year with the tailgating freeze, and she felt gamedays were somewhat empty.

“Not having tailgates felt like a part of football games was missing,” Morgan said.

During this past season’s tailgating prohibition at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the Esworthy family found ways to make up for it with off-site tailgating.

“My family often tailgated before at the hotel or did not tailgate at all while [COVID-19] was going on,” Taylor Esworthy, said.

This past year, Grafel and his friends — like many other college students — would host pregame parties to get everyone ready for “Caturday.”

“We would throw mini tailgates at our house to try and replicate the actual gameday feel,” Grafel said.

(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)
(Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

Grafel and other K-State fans and students were thrilled to hear that tailgating was returning this football season.

“Hearing that tailgating was coming back was some of the best news I have ever heard. It made gameday feel like normal again,” Grafel said. “I think K-State has one of the best gameday tailgating experiences in the country.”