They have a picnic feel to them if you excuse the absence of grass and that the setting is on asphalt and concrete in parking lots — tailgating at football games, from the professional sport to colleges to high schools. There probably is a little bit of it at some little league football games also.

Some tailgating is on grass on some sections in the area around stadiums. Tents are common. Some tents even have sides to them. Barbecuing is common. There are RVs with tents attached.

They begin hours before kickoffs and continue after the games are over. Some of the tailgaters never enter the stadium. They prefer to continue visiting, talking, eating, drinking and since more and more of the tents have televisions they can watch the game where they are.

Tailgating is a family thing. Friends stop by and mini-reunions are held. Students often stop by with their college friends who like the food and drink. New friends are made with your next door lot parking tailgaters.

Tailgate parties, or picnics, give evidence again that a woman’s role as a worker never ends. Much of the food is home-cooked. Others buy food from restaurants, which is picked up by the tailgaters or delivered to the picnic site. The food variety tempts most tailgaters.

Many of the tailgate tents fly flags of the U.S. and as is the case at Columbia, the Mizzou flag. Mizzou attire is common, worn by both men, women and children.

Games like washers are enjoyed and, of course, the youngsters bring along footballs that are quite common, and when they are flying there is the threat of being hit.

Tailgating has grown over the years and the interior of some tents are quite elaborate, with trimmings, including chandeliers. We were at a Ole Miss-Mizzou game in Oxford some years ago and the main tailgate section is called the Grove. The tents there are quite eye-catching with their wide variety of chandeliers. The Grove in football tailgating is nationally known for its fancy trimmings.

The downside for many tailgaters is that they have to depend on “Johnny on the Spot” toilet facilities. That can be galling at Mizzou since to park and tailgate on parking lots near the stadium require donations to the Tiger Scholarship Fund. We are sure that’s the case at other colleges also. There are no freebees in college football today!

The visiting that occurs on tailgating lots is one of the main features and benefits of these picnics. They bring families together. It’s a time to make new friends and the visiting brings back memories. Tailgating is not just for young people. We’ve seen people in wheelchairs there and many seniors enjoy the environment, along with the children.

You don’t have to be a diehard football fan to enjoy tailgating, which is a side activity enjoyed by thousands every autumn. Tailgating is just a big picnic.