Holly Ebel: A tailgating boom

Minnesota Soccer fans tailgate before the match between Manchester City against Olympiacos part of the Guinness International Champions Cup at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Some of the best get-togethers take place in stadium parking lots before, during and after football games these fall weekends. Tailgating has become as much a part of the games as cheerleaders.

With literally hundreds of cars and trucks taking part, it becomes a supercharged urban picnic, with food, flags, tents, banners and lots of energy. It is a happening of the best sort.

A Rochester couple who are pretty experienced at this are Al and Jill Horstman, who have had Gophers football tickets for at least 25 years.

"Tailgating? It is an absolute hoot. It definitely is one of the most fun things we do," Jill said.

Their host is Kevin Baumgard, formerly of Rochester and a 1979 John Marshall graduate who, with friend Steve Knaak, have tailgating down to a science.


"Over the years we have pretty well perfected it," Baumgard said. "From originally having just a small grill, a few lawn chairs and opening up the car trunk, we now have a tent, an awning, heaters, a portable propane grill, a table, coolers, chairs, anything you might need.

"We usually have about 15-20 people — family and friends — and there is always some mingling and camaraderie with the folks around us," he said.

There are plenty of tailgaters who don't go to all that effort, but there are others who go totally overboard with linens and silver.

Check the rulebook

Not just anyone can drive into a parking lot and set up, however. The University of Minnesota has certain rules and restrictions.

Tailgating is only allowed in designated parking lots and a permit is required, usually purchased at the start of the season along with football tickets.

The earliest set-up allowed is 7 a.m., and everything must be cleared away four hours after the event.

"You need several hours at least to set up the tent or whatever you have, hang banners, get the grill going," Baumgard said. "An 11 a.m. game gets to be a challenge, while the afternoon events are easier. As for having your own special spot, it is done on a first-come, first-serve basis."


And what about the weather?

"We are prepared for anything," he said. "Even if it is snowing, we are out there. You just learn to dress for whatever might happen."

Adding to the festive atmosphere at Gophers games is that the marching band comes around, as does Goldie, the team mascot. Most folks are also wearing maroon and gold.

"The whole atmosphere is so festive and happy, and very collegiate," Baumgard said.

So with all he has to do for packing things away and cleaning up does he get to the game at all? "I usually miss the kick-off but I get there," he said.

A big menu

Clearly, next to the game, food is the most important thing. And there is always lots of it, starting with an array of snacks. Especially popular are salsas, chips, guacamole, and buffalo wings. Any kind of dip also disappears quickly.

For tailgaters most of the food is grilled and involves a meat of some sort — sausages, hamburgers, kabobs, chicken and ribs are popular.


At his most recent tailgate, Baumgard prepared pork tenderloin as well as cheesy potatoes. Other dishes were brought by friends.

Dessert was a cherry cobbler warmed on the grill. Beverages include sodas, beer of course, and wine and must be served in plastic cups, not glass.

And, if you can believe this, there is even a tailgating newsletter put out by the Goal Line Club, which includes game information, comments about the game, and themes for food. A recent suggestion was for Mexican. Coming up is German (think sausages). Chili has become a tradition for the final home game in November.

Lest anyone think this is a young person's event, Baumgard's parents Darold, 84, and Alice, 77, of Rochester are there as well. They have been attending Gopher games since they were dating decades ago.

"Those were the days you got all dressed up in heels and gloves to go to the game," Alice said. "We may be the oldest tailgaters there but we wouldn't miss. It is so much fun, we love it. We'll keep going as long as we can."



Seven-layer bean dip


4 tablespoons oil

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 15-1/2-ounce cans pinto beans, drained with liquid reserved

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled

2 pickled jalapeno chilies, minced


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

6 scallions, thinly sliced

6 oz. pitted black olives, chopped

1-2 bags tortilla chips

Heat oil, add onion and garlic and cook over low heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in beans and cook for 3 minutes. Roughly mash them with back of a spoon, adding reserved liquid as needed for consistency. Mix tomatoes with 2 tablespoons onion and the salt. Mash avocados with jalapenos, 2 tablespoons sour cream and the lemon juice. In a large bowl, layer the ingredients: mashed beans, then cheese, scallions, tomatoes, avocado mixture, sour cream and olives. Serve with chips



Veggies with honey mustard dip

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup spicy brown mustard

Salt and pepper

1 English cucumber, cut into rounds

2 red peppers, sliced into strips

4 carrots cut into sticks

3 stalks celery, cut into strips

Mix mayonnaise, honey, mustard together. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. Serve alongside vegetables.


30 minute chili

1 tablespoon oil

3 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons canned chipotles in adobo sauce

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 pounds ground chuck

3 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice

1 12-ounce bottle mile lager beer

2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, saute onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder. chipotle and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until mixture starts to brown. Add beef and cook, breaking up with spoon until there is no pink left. Add the tomatoes, beer and beans and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook until thick. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

AP tailgating.jpg
A Minnesota Vikings fan tailgates. No matter the weather, you'll find tailgaters at Vikings and Gophers home games.

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