Ok... well, most of you probably know me well enough to know that when it comes to college football ONE team has my heart. Oh how I cherish my OLE MISS REBELS!!! And in my opinion there is no better tailgating tradition in the entire nation! (although any SEC team is pretty dang good in that department!) I could tell you all day long all the things I adore about my beloved Grove, but I left the professionals do it for me....
"Tailgating in The Grove before an Ole Miss game is an experience so sublime even native son William Faulkner would be at a loss to describe it." ESPN - Jim Caple
But in Oxford lies, as promised, the most magical place on all of God's green, football-playing Earth: The Grove. A school of red and white and blue tents swimming in a shaded 10-acre forest of oak trees, floating in an ocean of good will and even better manners.
I didn't know the rules at the Grove, rules like: "Don't bother showing up before 4 a.m." Sure, space is at a premium, but for a 6 p.m. game against Memphis? Who would? Apparently everyone, when you consider the masses who actually do arrive promptly at four.
Another rule: "The Grove closes at midnight," though it's often violated. Because of the old Bible Belt standard (no liquor sales on Sundays), it's the only place fans -- and players -- can get their post-postgame swill.
My most egregious rules violation: Dress as if you're attending a baptism. Ironic then that I, the most underdressed of the bunch, was the one being baptized. Holy water would have spit me back up, but they don't drink holy water in Mississippi. They drink bourbon.
Yes, they drink bourbon and eat boiled peanuts and finger sandwiches from sterling-silver platters and serving dishes arranged by caterers and frantic moms on elaborate tabletops. They partake in front of flat-screen TVs with DirecTV, underneath chandeliers and amongst intricate candelabras and ornate flower arrangements. And when football calls, they pay people like Andre, at the Rebel Rousers tent, to stand guard.
The Ole Miss-isms keep coming. When nature calls, they don't "whiz," they "potty" -- at the Hotty Toddy Potty, or its companion, the Hotty Toddy Potty Too. And players don't just walk to the game. They walk like "champions." Read: in their best shirts and ties. Like adults.
Adam Duerson - Sports Illustrated
"The Grove is upscale tailgating. We're talking about linen. We're talking about chandeliers. We're talking about sterling silver. We're talking about fresh cut flowers," said Langston Rogers, longtime Mississippi sports information director.
"Tailgating at The Grove is like attending a class reunion or a wedding every weekend. It's the place to be."
As in real estate, location is paramount at The Grove. The day before a Rebels home game, fans arrive early to get a spot along the path of the pregame Walk of Champions, during which player and coaches are cheered as they walk under the famous arch of the same name and through The Grove en route to the stadium.
"It's like a land rush every Friday to find your spot," Rogers said.
At The Grove, where snapshots of pregame gatherings could be used as magazine ads for Ralph Lauren, what's on your back is almost as important as what's on your plate.
"We have a long-held tradition among Ole Miss students," Rogers said, "that the women will wear dresses and high heels. The men will wear Khaki pants, navy blazers and ties."
Legend has it that the women of Oxford, Miss., will go on summer shopping sprees to find just the right outfit for The Grove.
"I've heard stories of women who will go shopping in New York before the season," Rogers said. "If there are seven home games that year, they will buy seven outfits for The Grove."
Doug Ward - ESPN Sports Travel
Yes, that is my sweet, sweet Grove! There is absolutely no other place on the Earth quite like it! Like heard many times over the years... "Ole Miss - We may not win every game.. but we have NEVER lost a party!" Ah... I can smell the bourbon now... Yes, I wore dresses and heels. Yes, I strapped flasks of bourbon to my legs to sneak pass stadium security. Yes, I sang along to "Dixie" with pride with my red and blue pom pom waving. Oh, those were the days! :) And, just in case you're wondering.. Yes, I visited the "Hotty Toddy Potty" on several occasions! ;)
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