By Ben Breitbach:
In preparation for a 6 p.m. kickoff against TCU, Cyclone fans started showing up in force on Friday and Saturday in the Jack Trice Stadium parking lots. Fans had a lot of time to set up their tailgate and show off their favorite traditions. Every tailgate has a staple that makes them different from others but the constant between each is food. While walking around outside of Jack Trice Stadium you can hear the sizzle of the grills, the smell of chili in a crockpot, and see the homemade desserts on decorated tables. Some fans have their favorite dish they bring to every tailgate, while others choose to change it up every game. The Cyclone tailgating experience is one of the best in the nation and reflects the Cyclone spirit. The food is definitely one of the reasons why tailgating in Ames is such an exciting time.
As with any sporting event, hamburgers and hot dogs are a popular choice among Cyclone fans. However, there are other choices that keep members of Cyclone Nation energized for night games. A favorite of Iowa State alums Tom and Lori Fleck, who have been tailgating at ISU for 30 years, is pulled pork. Tailgaters do not just stop with the main entrees, they also bring assorted dishes like chips and dip, vegetables plates, and homemade cookies, among other things.
Jan Abbas is referred to as being the ‘Martha Stewart’ of tailgating at Iowa State and she is definitely a candidate for the best tailgate in Cyclone Nation. Her husband is a 1976 alum and for every home game Jan has chosen a different theme that she has decorated her tailgate around and cooked food to match. The theme last weekend, with the looming winter weather, was a celebration of Abbas’ dying zinnia flowers. She decked out the trunk of her car with various fall decorations and had her flowers as centerpieces on her tables. Not only were her decorations exceptional, but the assorted dessert table, especially her scotcheroos, lived up to the decorations.
In previous weeks she has had different themes. In order to kick off the football season, Abbas went with a breakfast themed tailgate, which included breakfast burritos. On the schedule next for Abbas is a Halloween themed tailgate for the Homecoming game against the Texas Longhorns where she is going to continue to show her Cyclone spirit through her well-planned tailgates.
The game against TCU was the first this year that most fans were reminded that the seasons are changing. As the weather starts to get colder, the food that Cyclone fans bring to games gets warmer. With the weather in the 40’s and 50’s for most of the day many tailgaters decided to bring hot items to keep them warm before kickoff. Many traded in their hamburgers and hot dogs for a warm bowl of chili or decided to go with cheesy potatoes instead of fruit. Cali Westergard, a freshman at Iowa State who was taking in the tailgating festivities with her parents, said their tailgate was switching their food to match the changing seasons. Westergard explained that as it gets colder they plan on bringing a lot more chili and different kinds of soup. No matter how cold it gets outside it is a guarantee that Cyclone fans will continue to pack the parking lots outside of Jack Trice Stadium.
Next time you’re at Jack Trice Stadium on October 31st, take some time to walk around the parking lots and take in the smells and tastes of Cyclone tailgating. The food outside the stadium is something special and is just another reason game day at Iowa State is such a great experience.