By KAITLIN MORONEY
Right where the blacktop meets the gravel.
Thats where Vandal alumn Chad Laird said he, his friends and family hang out when they tailgate at the University of Idaho in the Kibbie Dome parking lot although they do wander around to take in the festivities with other Vandals.
Everybodys friendly, Laird said. Theres a group of people for you, depending on how crazy or how mellow you want.
And really, Vandal tailgating isnt Vandal tailgating without an adult beverage or two ... or six.
Thats why, before the late 1990s rolled around and the University of Idaho took advantage of a loophole in the no-alcohol-on-campus law, tailgating practically didnt exist.
To make it into NCAA Division I-A, UI had to average a greater number of fans than they had been getting at their home games. So, to boost attendance, UI went right through the laws loophole by cordoning off the Kibbie Dome parking lot and declaring it private property for the purposes of pregame functions, according to a Lewiston Tribune article from October 1997.
One Vandal alumnus from 1973, Pat Sullivan of Weiser, Idaho, said hes had season tickets since 1993, and he and his wife, Cathy, have been tailgating ever since it really started up in the late 90s. After his many years of UI pregame party experience, he has it down to a science.
We usually get there about between 10 and 11 in the morning, Sullivan said. And unpack the trunk which is packed with about everything we can get into it set up the barbecue and the bar and start cooking and visiting with friends.
The biggest trick hes developed over the years is keeping it simple.
We really learned to narrow down the essentials for what we pack, he said. Knowing what you need, learning how to pack it in. We always try to buy stuff with regard to whats going to fit into the trunk and what wont.
He and his wife delegate responsibilities he takes the grill, she takes the bar.
That way its supervised, he said.
His primary tip for tailgating newbies is to start slow.
Dont try to do what youre not comfortable doing, Sullivan said. We usually always do sausages. Theres other people who will always do chili and thats what they do.
He adds that everyone says their sausages are the best.
But we give them away, he said. So that might be part of it.
Laird comes from a long line of Vandals and graduated in the 90s. Hes been tailgating since he was a kid, although with the alcohol ban he said there was a bit of a lull when he was actually in college. Still, hes perfected a few tricks over the years, including wearing a glove on the beer hand to keep it warm.
Thats something me and my buddies have perfected over time, Laird said. Its a good way to hold on to your beer.
But tip No. 2 from Laird takes it to the next level.
Another thing we perfected is wear your koozie cup in a duct-tape necklace so you dont have to hold on to anything.
For both Laird and Sullivan, though, tailgating isnt about the sausages or the duct-tape koozie necklaces so much as its about the friends and sense of community.
Its kind of just a happy place for people to see other Vandals, Laird said.
Sullivan said much the same.
You know, really its about the people, he said. My wifes not a big football fan, but usually late July or early August shell say, I miss our tailgating friends, miss our football friends. It goes back to what theyve always talked about its the Vandal family.