Wolverine fans know how to tailgate

As any lover of the blue and maize can tell you. And they can also tell you that tailgating, for them, is not just an exercise in eating and drinking. It’s an homage to the game, the school, the traditions they love so well.

Some may call it a “Midwest thing.” Others may place credit on the hallmarks of football, or the love of the university. But for whatever reason tailgating is such a time-honored tradition at Michigan, it doesn’t change the fact that this is serious business. Few universities draw more fans to home games than does the University of Michigan, and they seem to all put 110 percent of school spirit into every gathering.

Up at the crack of dawn to secure a good place like Pioneer High or on the golf course, stocking up on local Ann Arbor homebrews, setting up multiple tents and tables. All of this is just another Saturday for many yelling Go Blue at the top of their lungs.

So what does it take to tailgate pure Wolverine style?

Planning is key

First, don’t underestimate it. This is the big leagues, kids. Don’t expect to show up two hours before kickoff and get a good spot, or any spot at all. Most parking lots around the Michigan Stadium, aka “The Big House,” open at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. on game days, and they fill up fast in a first-come-first-served style. The earlier you arrive, the better your tailgating position. Since you don’t often know where you will be tailgating ahead of time, it helps if your setup is flexible (multiple smaller tables, sun shades, etc.) to accommodate varying spaces.

Many die-hard tailgaters spend more than 14 hours in football heaven on game days here at Michigan. So that requires a lot of provisions. Think snacks, meals, desserts, beverages of all varieties, plenty of seating, plenty of options for the shifting temperature (heaters for the pre-dawn or post-sunset times, sunshades for the heat of the day).

Enjoy the festivities

The Michigan marching band is a true highlight for any tailgater. Members practice at Elbel Field on Friday night before the game (4:45 p.m.) or the day of the game (7:30 a.m.). The show begins about 90 minutes before the game on the steps of Revelli Hall before marching to The Big House.

But even the most stellar setup is going to pale if you’re not properly dressed. Signed jerseys, or any Michigan football jerseys, are popular choices, as are spirited-colored pants and face paint. No self-respecting Wolverine fan is complete without head-to-toe blue and maize. And that includes your tailgating spot at well. Flags, banners, Wolverine-emblazoned chairs and blankets, blue and maize coolers—the more, the better.

Even if your tailgate is a huge soiree, take some time to walk around the area and meet other Wolverines in their tailgating glory. You all are part of the Go Blue family, so make the effort to get to know them and see their tailgating traditions up close. For fans of the Wolverines, the camaraderie that blankets game day tailgates is out of this world and an experience not to be missed.

Go Blue!