The South’s Best Tailgate: Ole Miss Claims 2nd Place

October 9, 2012 | By | Comments (42)
ole miss 1 The Souths Best Tailgate: Ole Miss Claims 2nd Place

Photo by Gary Clark

On August 15 Southern Living’s launched its first annual The South’s Best Tailgate competition to officially determine which school has the region’s ultimate pre-game celebration. Over 510,000 votes were cast and last week we revealed that Alabama clinched 3rd Place. Today we’re back to announce that 2nd Place goes to none other than the University of Mississippi.

Ole Miss, whose tailgating is featured in our new GAC television special, initially made our pre-season list of Top 20 Tailgate Schools thanks to its renowned game day spreads. With chandeliers and candelabras, Ole Miss sets the bar high (and with fresh flowers) for upscale tailgating. In recognition of the Rebels’ stellar performance in our inaugural tailgate competition we’re sharing our Top 5 Favorite Ole Miss Traditions:

ole miss 3 The Souths Best Tailgate: Ole Miss Claims 2nd Place

Photo by Gary Clark

1. The Grove is prime real estate. The legendary epicenter of Ole Miss tailgating is The Grove, a sprawling 10-acres in the heart of Oxford shaded by picturesque oaks, elms and magnolias. So coveted are spots in there that when the grounds officially open for tailgate set-up (9pm the Friday before each home game) you’ll witness a red and blue frenzy as fans scramble to stake their claim. For the full-effect check out this nifty time lapse video that captures a game day weekend at The Grove.

2. They pull out their Sunday Best one day early. The only thing more decked out than an Ole Miss tailgate tent is, well, the fans. From blazers with bow ties to sundresses with pearls the Rebels’ enforce a strict dress code on game day: high style.

3. The team is part of the tailgate. The highlight of each Ole Miss tailgate is arguably the “Walk of Champions,” where the football players and coaches make their way through The Grove’s spirited crowd en route to the stadium.

4. Southern hospitality reigns. Ole Miss football prowess may be up and down season to season but one constant remains–great tailgating. (In fact, on any given game day you may just find a few fans with tickets in hand who decide to forgo the game in favor of four-quarters of tailgating.)  The emphasis on the party means that the opposing team, or heck, anyone looking for a good time, is always welcome under a Rebel’s tent–and welcome to stay for a second helping of Mississippi Mud Cake.

5. They are always, and we mean always, ready for a cheer. The soundtrack for any Ole Miss tailgate are countless shouts of “Are You Ready?” followed by a resounding chant of Ole Miss’s signature cheer, “Hotty Toddy.”

Congrats to the Ole Miss for taking 2nd Place in The South’s Best Tailgate. That calls for a rousing rendition of Hotty Toddy. Are you ready?

Be sure to check back next Monday, October 15 when we’ll officially reveal the winner of The South’s Best Tailgate.


  1. Jeff

    I don’t think it’s worth bickering about who has the best tailgating, just raise a pint, grab some BBQ, and enjoy life. Oh, and we all know the Grove is the best anyway.

    December 18, 2015 at 7:46 am
  2. College GameDay At Ole Miss Is Tailgating's Holy Land

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    October 2, 2014 at 9:30 am
  3. National Rankings from 2012 | Ole Miss News

    […] Tailgater’s Paradise – Ole Miss continued to be the premiere destination for college tailgating as the Grove claimed second place in Southern Living’s “South’s Best Tailgate”… […]

    December 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm
  4. Jason G.

    OLE MISS is by far the #1 tailgate in the USA!

    October 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm
  5. Sam

    Recent Letter from visiting Auburn Fans about the Grove: I wanted to write you and tell you that you have the best fans in SEC football! My son is the long snapper for Auburn (and yes, Ole Miss recruited him), so we wore our jerseys as we walked to the stadium. Not one single time before or after the game did anyone say a negative thing to us. We were invited twice to tailgate with fans from Ole Miss. Once was before the game and the second time was as we walked back to the car after the game. The gentleman that took our money for parking talked to us and welcomed us to Ole Miss. It was amazing to see all the tailgating tents in “The Grove.” Ole Miss has a beautiful campus and the fans take care of it. We ran into no one that had had too much to drink and we did not see trash lying around on the ground. We look forward to coming back to Ole Miss in two years and we hope that Auburn will show Ole Miss fans the same courtesy next year that Ole Miss fans showed us. Maybe, in two years, we will take up some offers to tailgate and spend some time with UM fans.

    Everyone was awesome at Ole Miss!

    October 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm
  6. SEC Fan

    Clemson, Are you KIDDING me!? It may be better, but you sure never hear about it like you do THE GROVE. I’ve been to 11/14 SEC Venues and Ole Miss is hands down the best. I’ve been to NFL venues and OM beats any NFL parking lot tailgating.

    October 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm
  7. Sherry

    A recent visit from The University Texas to Ole Miss indicated the hospitality. Burnt Orange fans were invited in nearly every tailgate party there! Hook”em

    October 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm
  8. Vernon

    Unbelievable class; or should I say lack of class? Embarrassment to the citizens that have humility and class. Mississippi is not like these people. Feel like I am apologizing for our State all over again like this was the 60’s. Cheeze grow up little children not everyone drinking the same Koolaid.

    October 16, 2012 at 9:37 am
  9. Minnie

    As to the grandeur of the Grove experience, perhaps the Texas Longhorns said it best, I doubt many schools can say the opponent went home and wrote about them in such flattering terms.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm
  10. Minnie

    You could vote multiple times with different emails. Ole Miss and Clemson were tied many days and other days they were neck and neck. Had we lost without outside interference from rival fans, I would say, Well done Clemson, But I personally saw many posts on Ole Miss facebook pages by Rival fans saying they were asking everyone to vote against us. Then after that Clemson suddenly pulled way ahead. So Yes it did happen. I don’t blame SL or Clemson, but I think SL needs to realize this happened.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm
  11. Elizabeth Butzow

    I know we can’t stand along side all the mega schools, but if it’s an SEC tailgate contest or even simply an article, couldn’t you,SL, at least include all the SEC teams? I’m sure you could find some redeeming value from every school, even Vanderbilt. I’m from N. IL so I enjoy your southern football traditions ( we do tailgate up here but 30 degrees & snow aren’t particularly appealing to me). The game alone is sufficient. I also agree with those who feel the voting aspect was a poor call. Not everything has to be a competion for all to enjoy. How about just a popular recipe or 2 & a bit of every school’s major tailgating traditions? Vanderbilt’s campus is a wonderful representation of the beauty of the South & it’s academic reputation is second to none. I’m sure you could find some redeeming aspect of the Commodores relating to football. As “Dores fans, it’s not unusual to hear the Bears referred to as “Vanderbilt of the North” with 4 current Vandy players on their roster: Jay Cutler,EJ Moore,Earl Bennet,Chris Williams,& only recently retired, Hunter Hillenmyer. Not too shabby for a small SEC school. My daughter is a grad so I had to comment. I’m not familiar with every SEC school so mea culpa if I left anyone out!

    October 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm
  12. Angela

    I am a red-blooded Razorback, but my daughter is a senior at Ole Miss. No school can touch the Grove experience. And for last year’s Arkansas at Ole Miss game, I did the whole experience: rush for tent spot on Friday night; truckloads of food, chairs, and tables; and welcoming other folks to my tent. We had a great mix of Hogs vs. Rebs. I had so much fun I didn’t care who won the game!

    October 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm
  13. Crystal

    I find it hard to believe that any rival of Ole Miss would vote for Clemson instead of their own team, b/c you only got to vote once daily. That seems pretty stupid. And it sounds like Ole Miss fans are making excuses and are just bitter sore losers who are ungrateful that got 2nd place.

    October 15, 2012 at 11:44 am
  14. Clemson Wins The South’s Best Tailgate – The Daily South | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] August 15 to October 1, more than 510,000 votes were cast with Alabama clinching 3rd place and Ole Miss taking 2nd place. But there can only be one winner, and in 2012 the ultimate bragging rights […]

    October 15, 2012 at 11:09 am
  15. Andy

    Good to see a southern school from the Blue Ridge Mountains region get a good nod. I would love to visit The Grove and Oxford someday. Of course we Tiger fans love to show our southern hospitality and would welcome you guys to our corner of Dixie. Best of luck with the rest of your season!

    October 15, 2012 at 10:54 am
  16. Minnie

    Sadly the voting was not done by fans of each school but was shared on Facebook to our rivals to Vote against Ole Miss by voting for Clemson. I know there was no way for Southern Living to prevent that, but it was never a true contest to begin with. This is not disparage the tail gate experience at Clemson but to just make sure everyone understands what occurred.

    October 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm
  17. Babybud

    Remember,this was done all in good-natured fun. Southern Living printed the idea and the readers passed it along to friends,family and classmates. I guess we at Clemson have more than the normal amount AND all voted daily. We’re loyal like that.

    October 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm
  18. Johnnie Netherland

    The tailgate contest was posted on a local tv station in Mississippi to ask for votes. Classless Mississippi State fans hate Ole Miss so much they were voting for Clemson. Go thank them because Ole Miss would have won without them voting for Clemson.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm
  19. NaturalStateReb

    I wonder what coastal location will be chosen #1? Since Southern Living long ago stopped being about southern living and really is just about coastal living, I cancelled my subscription. If I wanted a magazine that was primarily about coastal living in Georgia and Carolinas, I would just subscribe to Coastal Living.

    Epic fail.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:25 am
  20. John Paul Cassil

    Clemson Won!

    October 11, 2012 at 7:02 am
  21. John

    Tons of respect here for Ole Miss tailgating from a Clemson Alum. I was really looking forward (before the series was cancelled) to my Clemson Tigers making the trip to Ole Miss in few years just to see the Grove tailgating scene and the campus. However, with 80,000+ fans tailgating around our scenic campus, we have nothing to be ashamed of either. Here’s to great southern football at great schools with great food and great people!!
    Go Tigers !

    October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm
  22. Joe Thompson (@jtmerch)

    Ole Miss and Bama is pretty active so far on, they have lots of users that are registered and watching each other’s tailgates.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm
  23. Nona Parris

    Every day that I went in to vote, Clemson was ALWAYS leading the race, now they didnt even place in the runners up…. Whats up with that? Rigged!!!!

    October 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm
  24. Deidra

    Go Tigers!

    October 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm
  25. Sym

    I do like your “Hot Toddy” song. I love Southern Football. I live in Illinois and I don’t even go to a game here. Just not worth the effort on any note.

    October 10, 2012 at 10:02 am
  26. Sym

    Go tigers!!! 🙂

    October 10, 2012 at 9:59 am
  27. Chrystal

    Very sad that ppl would put other teams down just cause their OWN fans didnt vote hard enough. WAH. The #1 spot is for the fans who definitely believe in their team. Ole Miss fought a good fight, but didnt win. And if your surprised they didnt make top spot, well, you should have voted. Btw, its about the best tailgates, and Clemson, IS ONE OF THE BEST. Has nothing to do with performance, or the Tide would have been one of the top spots. Dont be upset at the magazine, be upset with your fan base. I personally voted every single day, and shared it with friends who were as well. If you didnt vote, you dont have a right to bitch.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:16 am
  28. Mahug

    Well all I can say is who ever won 1st place (which it appears to be Clemson), I can’t wait to see how you compare to the Grove at Ole Miss. Should be very interesting to see how it can be better! Gonna be hard to prove that to your readers.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm
  29. Marie Waters

    Thank you Rebecca. Would love to check it out some day if we are ever back that way. Actually went to Ole Miss one summer because we have family in the area and bought some Ole Miss t-shirts at the campus bookstore. One of my uncles who died several years ago used to take other employees shifts for overtime in the summer so he could buy his season tickets for Ole Miss football games.

    October 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm
  30. Rebecca

    Marie come by anytime and enjoy The Grove if you have not been. You will not be disappointed! My friends and I call it a sneak peek of Heaven. 🙂 And Jan…I agree with the Bach metaphor! Can’t wait till Saturday!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm
  31. stacyblaise

    Reblogged this on stacyblaise.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm
  32. Gablesgirl

    Wow! A Tide fan here and so surprised Bama and Ole Miss did not make the top spot.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm
  33. MB

    Maybe opening up voting for the South’s best tailgate wasn’t the best idea. So many of us Southerners are extremely biased when it comes to our schools, and I believe this is an example of that. Obviously the winning team did a great job getting their fans out and voting everyday, and they should be very proud of fan loyalty. BUT it says a lot when a school like Ole Miss has non-Ole Miss fans defending and voting for them in this election. I’m sure if the #1 school had played the Rebels in the past 20 years then many of their fans would have been voting for Ole Miss as well. Maybe Southern Living should have had a group visit all of the nominated schools, and then ranked them instead. Then I believe we would have seen that yet again The Grove at Ole Miss would have been on top.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm
  34. Marie Waters

    Michael, I was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. However, my father went into the military when I was four so I have lived all over the place (U.S. and overseas). My master’s degree is from Clemson University and our Tiger fans were very loyal in their voting. Rebecca, I saw the Southern Living article on The Grove and I was very impressed by the elaborate tailgates that were featured. Not every college has such a place to tailgate. Friends here in Missouri had a son who was a former assistant football coach at Ole Miss and his mom said that The Grove was one of the neatest traditions that she had seen.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm
  35. Jan Waddell

    I think Southern Living said it best in their fabulous new SEC cookbook, “The Grove is to tailgating as Bach is to music, simply the best.” Hotty Toddy and y’all come see us!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm
  36. Rebecca

    As a die hard Ole Miss fan from birth and my whole family has gone to school there, I too think we are #1 and have heard this from friends from all walks of the SEC and other conferences. However, it was based on fans votes, Michael and Southern Living is a great magazine. They did a nice job on covering Ole Miss. Thanks for making us look bad. You should be proud. Instead you look bitter. I say to anyone, come join us at The Grove and see for yourself. Hotty Toddy!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm
  37. Mike

    originally born in Mississippi?

    October 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm
  38. Nancy Plowden

    I agree! Equal opportunity voting….Go Tigers! That’s Clemson Tigers!

    October 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm
  39. Christi

    Guess Ole Michael should have been voting everyday if he felt so strongly!

    October 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm
  40. Marie Waters

    Southern Living didn’t pick Ole Miss as #2 (this from a gal originally born in Mississippi). The voting was done by fans of the schools. Ole Miss does have one of the most elaborate tailgating traditions in college football, but don’t blame the publication for them being selected as #2.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm
  41. tami jordan

    and that comment is probably why ole miss got second…lol how rude

    October 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm
  42. Michael Tate Webb

    Glad to know that i will be cancelling my mom’s subscription to Southern Living. #2 really? Focus on what your good at such as weddings and floral decorations signed off by Martha Stewart. Ole Miss will always and forever be #1 and everybody except you knows it.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm

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