Forget the game, it's the tailgate that counts

Good friends, good food are highlight of day

Gene Williams drove his recreational vehicle from North Augusta the day before last weekend’s Augusta City Classic to claim his tailgating spot in the Lucy C. Laney High School parking lot.

“Every weekend I’m going to a game,” he said. “I’ll take a trip down to Savannah to see Savannah State. I’ll ride down to Florida to see Florida A&M. I just like coming out here to meet people.”

With a large flat-screen television connected to a satellite receiv­er and a grill nearby, Williams’ friend, Harry Bush, said they might not make it inside the stadium to see the Wildcats of Fort Valley State take on the Benedict College Tigers.

After all, Bush said, the greatest part of tailgating is getting together with fans no matter their allegiance and having a good time.

“Once they bring Paine (College football) here, this will be a regular thing,” Bush said of the tailgating crowd.

But for the time being Bush was munching on a grilled bratwurst, bragging about the array of delicacies on today’s menu.

“We have everything from ribs to chicken to hot dogs to burgers,” he said.

Bush’s go-to tailgating food is steak, but that was being saved for after the game.

Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams isn’t even a sports fan, but he is a big fan of tailgating.

“I like the fellowship, and I like to cook,” he said.

Williams, who admits that he doesn’t really understand football or basketball, was stationed in a tent behind the visitors’ stands preparing his signature Lowcountry boil.
He said tailgating provides fans with a relaxing setting before they get riled up at the game.

“People forget about their troubles and start to think about the good time they’re having at that moment,” he said. “They’re probably seeing people that they haven’t seen in a long time. People are swapping recipes and talking about how to cook different things. It’s just a great time, and the weather is perfect for it.”

Huddled around rows of white folding tables, fans and alumni of Fort Valley State University waved down passersby to join them for a helping of ribs, hash and rice, and just about any kind of drink imaginable.

“We get all the good stuff,” Fort Valley State alum Leatrice Lattimore said, with a smile.

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