Tailgating in the Grove has been a long-cherished tradition amongst the Rebel faithful during football season. However, a few changes in rules have caused different opinions to arise.
The University of Mississippi, along with Ole Miss Athletics, decided in late July to implement a new policy where the Grove would be closed at 6:30 p.m. and open it up at 7:30 p.m. The policy also allows approved tailgate vendors to be able to bring in their tents earlier in order to “reserve” their spots.
Some alumni and business owners are enjoying the new rules and have adjusted well to them. Lantz Foster, an Ole Miss alumnus and pool company owner from Canton, Mississippi, owns the Zebra tent by the Walk of Champions. For him, the new rules take some stress out of his tailgating schedule.
“I like not having to come out here at five in the morning, get a spot and stay out here all day,” Foster said. “It makes life simpler for us.”
His wife, Jane Foster, is proud of the university for coming up with new rules and sticking to them.
“I think the way that they have enforced it has made it work so well,” Jane said. “They have really carried through with things, and it has worked out fine.”
When it comes to fraternities and organizations wanting spots around the Zebra tent, the Fosters have been treated with respect.
“Everybody has been really courteous to us,” Jane said. “This is our 30th year in this spot. I wanted my own tent, and I wanted to do something different to show that I am a true Rebel.”
While the Fosters find the new changes positive, some alumni and current students have not been so welcoming to them.
Sidney Coleman, a senior from Hernando believes that the new rules could use some changes already.
“I’ve been doing tents in the Grove for five years now,” Coleman said. “I have a lot of good memories coming out here on a Friday afternoon and hanging out with friends. It gets your adrenaline up for football weekends.”
Coleman is using the vendor option in order to use his favorite spot in the Grove, which he agrees is a nice change, but can be favorable to others.
“With the new rules, the vendor option is good for people who can pay for it,” Coleman said. “I feel like it is biased towards those that can afford it.”
“For the most part, the people who pay the big bucks to have people set up the tents for them are the same people who pay big bucks to make sure the football team wins,” Coleman said.
Despite the new rule changes and the vendor spots coming into effect, Coleman believes more changes will come.
“I think that probably in five to 10 years, you are going to have to start buying places in the Grove like real estate,” Coleman said.
“Tailgating is going to become like parking on campus, because you will have to donate a certain amount of money to the university to have a spot.”
Chris Henry, an Ole Miss alumnus from Holly Springs, Mississippi, wants the rules to change as well.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Henry said. “It is inconvenient to ask people to pay a vendors’ fee for a spot and take away a chance to hang out in the Grove on Fridays and hold spots.”
Even though Henry wants the rules changed, he can understand why the university and Ole Miss athletics went with the new rules.
“Vendors are only allowed to bring one tent at first, but then they come back later with the rest,” Henry said. “They are just trying to keep it from being hectic like it was when we had College Gameday here last year.”
Henry still believes that a tradition has been taken away from current Ole Miss students, as well as alumni.
“Sitting in the Grove was all that we would do on a Friday,” Henry said. “People would come out here and hold spots, and then someone would take their place so that way they could go to class. It takes away from the tradition.”
Henry also agrees with Coleman that more changes are coming for tailgating in the Grove.
“I have no idea how long it will be until it happens, but it is coming,” Henry said. “The university is going to take any money that they can get.”
“A lot of people give money to this university, and this is one thing that is free. People come and spend so much money to set up in the Grove. I think it takes away from tradition at Ole Miss,” Henry said.
For more information about the new Grove rules as well as more information regarding game day at Ole Miss, visit www.olemissfb.com
I am currently a Broadcast Journalism major at the University of Mississippi. I work for Ole Miss Athletics and am an alumni of the Brothers Under Christ fraternity. Hotty Toddy!