Historians have somehow traced the modern tailgate to a college football matchup between Rutgers and Princeton in the College Field parking lot in 1869. And while we won’t argue with historians, I can tell you from growing up in New England that true tailgating begins once you hit the Carolinas.
“It’s a cookout, a family reunion, a sports bar and a fashion show all in one,” said Bluffton resident Erik Bridges, a recent Lowcountry import who has been tailgating at Clemson University games for 22 years. “I’m from New York, but my true baptism as a football fan happened at my first Tigers tailgate. It’s a fall ritual. Our social calendar year begins on September 1.”