Tips and Fun Equipment to Make Your Tailgate a Success

16 August 2017

Tailgating for Football Season!

Football season is prime time to tailgate in Arizona whether it's in a parking lot at your favorite stadium or at home on your patio. Or maybe you're even doing a campout somewhere in the mountains.

Rosie on the House Hot DogsOnce upon a time tailgates were a simpler affair, maybe with sandwiches and potato salad or hot dogs and burgers cooked on a portable charcoal grill. That still might be true, but lots of times the food and the equipment are a lot more complicated. Or depending on where you plan to tailgate, some of the equipment may not be allowed.

Many of us want to make a good impression on guests at our tailgate party and we worry about the menu. So, we consulted an expert, Allison Carpenter, owner of Shar's Kitchen, a cooking supply store in Gilbert, who has been holding tailgate and outdoor parties for years. She went to her very first tailgate when she was on her honeymoon and has done lots of outdoor cooking while camping with family and friends.

"I tell people that they should have maybe two or three recipes that are simple to make for their party, but that are also their specialties," Carpenter said. "Then you simply fill in with things you buy that are ready-made, and everyone will be really impressed. For example, if you want to serve chili dogs, you make the chili yourself and take it to the tailgate in your cooler to serve with the hot dogs you bought at the store." For games, she often goes with a large group that puts her in charge of the food.

Rosie on the House Chicken wings

Some of her suggestions:

1 | Have a plan for cleaning up afterward.

"When you tailgate, you need to keep things very, very clean. I always take along lots of spray bottles of cleaners and lots of paper towels," Carpenter says.

2 | Practice sensible food safety rules.

"The hot food needs to stay hot and the cold food needs to be kept cold." Carpenter says she owns seven different ice chests.

3 | Keep everything really cold or really hot.

"Take a thermometer along to be sure you have heated food enough for it to be safe."

4 | Protect the leftovers.

"You will have to throw away some food, but if you want to keep leftovers in the ice chest, be sure to chill it fast enough."

5 | Bring food storage.

"Ziploc bags are my best friend. You can put food into a bag and keep it very flat and put it immediately on top of ice."

Rosie on the House BBQIf you're interested in cooking and doing a tailgate at a football stadium in Arizona, consult the team websites for information about whether you can consume alcohol or not and what type of alcohol you can drink.

Not all grills are allowed at stadium tailgates. In general, parking lots for games allow gas grills but not charcoal grills or wood fires. Deep fat frying is forbidden. A portable propane grill is probably your best bet. There are even limits on how big the electric generator should be if you're powering up a portable TV.

Tailgating is allowed in some areas of parking lots, but not in others, and sometimes you must buy a tailgate pass in advance. Check the rules about how early the party can start and end. You can have tents and tables, but sizes are limited so that parties won't block traffic.

So what kinds of equipment are your top necessities for a tailgate? Here are what tailgaters told the Weber-Stephen grill company in an annual survey of people who like to hold parties at football games. Responders in a recent survey listed the following as their top 10 must-haves for a successful tailgate:

1 | Food – 79 percent of those surveyed

2 | Grill – 76 percent

3 | Cooler – 68 percent

4 | Chairs – 65 percent

5 | Alcoholic beverages – 60 percent

6 | Table – 55 percent

7 | Tickets to the game - 44 percent

8 | Non-alcoholic beverages - 38 percent

9 | Radio – 37 percent

10 | Tent/canopy – 34 percent

According to the Pre-Game Tailgating & Parking Guidelines, tailgating at University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals is "intended for game day ticket holders only" and "tailgating after the game has begun or post-game is not permitted." So, what about those people who don't think tickets are a necessity? Are they coming to the party, but going home before the game or are they planning to find a scalper or what? The manufacturer had no answers to those very puzzling questions.

Fun Equipment to Take to a Tailgate

Rosie on the House BBQ CanHere are some products we saw recently at the National Hardware Show that can help with tailgate parties:

The BBQue Can is a tube-shaped utensil that can help grill bite size favorites such as chopped meats or seafood, chopped veggies or mini-potatoes. Check it out at

Weber-Stephen Products has special portable gas grills for use at stadium tailgates where charcoal or firewood are not allowed.

If you have loads of time to cook, you can go solar and avoid a lot of the mess of gas or charcoal cooking.

Or how about taking a very special folding table to the game, one that also has a rack for carrying folding chairs?

The ottoman cooler is a cooler on a trolley, but it's also a bench to sit on. The cooler has front door access to the cooling area so that you can use the top as a serving table as well. Search for the ottoman cooler at

Orion coolers are great for camping, but also for tailgating.

Get a portable Briggs & Stratton P3000 inverter generator to power your portable TV and cooking equipment. Back home, use a Briggs & Stratton power washer to clean up your grill and gear.


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