story by Dale Cullins
Editor’s note: Welcome to the second season of Tusk to Tail, a special “web reality” presentation of the tailgating experience as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together for more than a decade. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by The City Wire. (Link here to the Tusk to Tail introduction for the 2013 season.)
Follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
Two weeks to go, and crawling. But there is still plenty left to do before the kickoff to the season and the first Tusk to Tailgate.
With two scrimmages under their belt, the football players got some time away from practice for Fan Day on Sunday (Aug. 18). Thousands of fans made it into Bud Walton Arena for the festivities. The event was well organized and well attended.
The longest autograph lines were for Head Coach Bret Bielema and running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, though the quarterbacks staid busy too. Even Tusk IV made it up for the day. The players seemed excited for the season and for the attention they were being shown from the fans. They signed everything with a smile, and had some kind words for the kids.
Tusk to Tail is getting excited, too. For this season, we have added a 20-by-10 foot tent to our 20 square feet from last season. There were just too many folks, and not enough canvas to cover everyone when it was hot or rainy last season. The additional tent space should give us room for the food tables and dining space. In addition, we have added some sides to the main 20-by-20 foot tent to help keep out wind, rain, and cold when necessary.
We also had a request for music this season. Apparently not everyone wanted to listen to pre-game commentary or the less-heralded early games in the morning. The Ion Block Rocker is a wireless Bluetooth 50 Watt speaker than can run 12 plus hours off of a battery charge. We have loaded up an old Ipod with songs and look forward to enjoying that with the new speaker.
Funds have also been used to purchase a portable bar from Best of Times. It weighs about 70 pounds and can be assembled in less than 10 minutes by one person. The bar can be customized but we went with the stock University of Arkansas logos. I gave it a dry run in my garage last weekend. Well, not quite dry. It is a bar, after all.
Wives with exceptional crafting skills get recruited to pitch in as needed. Kara Cullins is busy creating new centerpieces for the tables and hand painting a new cooler that we have acquired for the bar area. Be sure to tune in after the first game to see photographs of all the new additions for this season.
A complete cleaning and inventory was accomplished in my garage last weekend, and a shopping list was created to help speed things up during game week. We even set a date next weekend for another almost-dry run of loading and unloading a new tailgate trailer that will help us speed up the process on game days.
The trailer will help us take more gear in one vehicle, since we had maxed out our capacity and were leaving things behind due to space and parking concerns.
Long before the pre-planning for this tailgating season, more detailed planning for travel started shaping up. First, Tusk to Tail booked hotel rooms in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which is a hard town to find a vacancy. This will be our first time to stay near the University of Alabama campus, which should bring some new adventures and dining locales. Rooms were also reserved in Baton Rouge for the traditional Friday-after-Thanksgiving game against LSU.
In March, Tusk to Tail put down a deposit on a 29-passenger party bus to carry us all round trip from Little Rock to Oxford on game day. This is also a first for us, but we thought that Oxford is such a short trip that the bus ride should be a lot of fun.
By April, we were buying airline tickets for the late-September Rutgers trip. We had been watching fares, but they didn’t seem to move much, so we pulled the trigger, averaging about $350 round trip. We will fly into Philadelphia and call on our close friend who lives in that area (Craig May’s brother, Chris) to provide us with some great side trips. We reserved the Philadelphia hotel rooms in July.
Airline tickets for the trip to Gainesville, Fla., were bought over the summer, but we are still trying to decide if we want to stay in Tampa or Gainesville that weekend.
The tailgate and travel season for following the Football Hogs has become a year-round process. Having been to most of these locales makes it easier for us to plan, but regardless of the season on the field, Tusk to Tail has nearly completed its preseason preparations, and is ready to get things started on Aug. 31.
Be sure to check in and see how it all unfolds.