Utah tailgaters make gameday an event

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Despite rules and regulations, dedicated college football fans in Utah have the same agenda every home game no matter what school they’re supporting — tailgating.

Tailgaters don’t waste any time sleeping in on Saturdays; instead, they wake up early to prepare and set up for a day they had been planning all week.

“We make it a full and complete day by getting up at seven in the morning to make our way out to the tailgating lot,” said Terri Jackson, from Salt Lake City.

[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]McKensie Bayer, also from Salt Lake City , said her tailgating party makes food assignments and brings their fire pit, canopies, motor homes, satellite dish and big-screen TV to every home game.

Although BYU and University of Utah tailgaters have similar goals, their tailgating traditions are what set them apart.

“There is an obvious difference of what’s allowed at one school versus the other,” U of U tailgater Mark Gines said.

Another Salt Lake City resident, Darren Tucker, started tailgating 23 years ago. He said even though most tailgaters at the University of Utah drink alcoholic beverages, he has never seen any alcohol related problems in the lot because everyone is really respectful to the people around them.

“We don’t worry about what the ‘U’ does with their tailgating,” BYU tailgater Joel Tuaileva said. “They do their stuff and we do our stuff.”

Tuaileva also said the main idea of tailgating for anyone is getting together and showing support no matter how it’s done.

The University of Utah sets an entire parking lot aside for tailgaters, while BYU enforces stricter regulations for their tailgaters. The difference in tailgating rules has a great impact on the tailgating environment.

“BYU has a terrible tailgating environment,” Tuaileva said. “It disappoints me that the school doesn’t allow more people to enjoy the spirit of tailgating.”

Jackson said the tailgaters in the University of Utah parking lot become a big Utah family, and if they don’t know someone in the area, then they get to know them.

“The people [who] play together stay together,” Jackson said.

Regardless of traditions or rules, tailgaters at BYU and U of U have the same goal. All tailgaters go out to enjoy time with family and friends and show support to their football team no matter what.

“For any real tailgater, there is no such thing as weather getting in the way,” Gines said. “We’re out here in rain, snow or shine.”

Saturday is the last chance for BYU fans to pull out their tailgating equipment in the 2011 season as the Cougars play their last home game of the season against New Mexico State.

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