Texas Tailgating Traditions

By Katey Psencik, Austin Powell, and Batli Joselevitz.


The concept of tailgating vaguely dates back to the late 1800s during the Civil War, according to the American Tailgate Association. At the Battle of Bull Run civilians had food with them and shouted their support for the Union in hopes of winning the battle. Today, setting up a tent or RV providing food, drinks and televisions for Longhorn football fans brings the University of Texas community together hours before a football game along with many tailgate traditions.


Left: Wes, Jeanne and Steve Ply host tailgates full of barbecue and tequila on their favorite tailgating place in the parking lot behind the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. They call their spot “The Hill.”



Map of available parking during the 2013 Football season at UT-Austin.
General map of Football parking, transportation, and tailgate locations during the 2013 season provided by UT-Austin. 

Photographs of various tailgaters at the Texas Longhorns v Kansas Jayhawks home game November 2, 2013.




Do’s and Don’ts of Tailgating:


  • Show up to the tailgating area before 7 a.m. You may lose tailgating privileges.

  • When setting up make sure that tents don’t block the sidewalk and fire lanes.

  • Bring your pet. It is really crowded and there is not a lot of space for your furry friend to roam about.

  • When grilling at a tailgate, don’t dispose charcoal, wood or grease in the trash cans, grass, parking lots or street drains.

  • Bring portable restrooms, UT provides portable facilities for Longhorn fans.

  • Organize your own tailgate if it’s your first time. There are many tailgates to join just by walking around Centennial Park.


  • Arrive at the tailgate area at 7 a.m. to set up equipment for the day’s activities.

  • Arrive two to four hours before kick-off to find metered parking or park at Bob Bullock Texas History Museum’s underground parking garage.

  • Bring a cooler, sunscreen, camping chair, sunglasses, and friends.

  • Drink a lot of water, it can get very hot early in the season –you want to avoid a heatstroke.

  • Clean up after the tailgate, or else you may be fined.

  • Help out tailgate hosts, such as the Horn-Ball Texas Tailgaters. They provide free food and drinks and could always use an extra hand.

Left: UT alumnus Marcia shares stories of her and her husband’s more than 50 years of attending Texas football games and tailgates. Right: UT alumnus Nick Class plays a tune Longhorn fans know well with an unorthodox instrument.


Google map highlights designated tailgate areas near UT-Austin including information on purchasing lots for tailgates and what you may find at certain tailgate events.


Native Austinite Cary shares stories of decades of tailgating and family superstitions.

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