Tailgating spotlight

It is no surprise that one of the main staples for an LSU tailgating party is beer. No matter how big or small the party is there is always plenty of beer for everybody.

This fact alone makes the Mockler beverage tailgating party one of the most successful on LSU's campus. With their recognizable red Budweiser tent standing amid a sea of purple and gold tents, these tailgaters can not be missed.

Mockler Beverage, located in Baton Rouge, bottles beer from the Anheuser Busch Corporation, giving these tailgaters an unending supply of beer.

They offer a wide selection of food, from gumbo to ribs, and always have plenty of beer for anyone who wants to join them.

"It's mostly just a group effort. Mockler supplies the beer, and everybody else contributes the food," John Bahlinger, one of the people in charge of the tailgating party, said.

Bahlinger has been coming out for the pre-game parties for over ten years. He and his friends started tailgating when they were in college and continued the tradition after graduation.

They started in the Parade Grounds before acquiring parking passes and moving to their current location near the Indian Mounds.

The spot offers them an ideal view of the band as it makes its way down Victory Hill and into Tiger Stadium.

For Bahlinger and the rest of the tailgaters, the key is to arrive early and leave late. Most people show up to tailgate early in the afternoon, but they stay around long after the game is over. Bahlinger said he and his fellow party goers just sit down, drink beer, and watch the traffic thin out on Dalrymple.

Bahlinger said the group likes to keep everything simple. Unlike other tailgating parties, they do not have any rituals or special customs they perform before the game. Mostly, they just want to have a laid back atmosphere for people to come and just relax.

"We show up, and all our people know we're here," Bahlinger said. "They just come by to have fun."

The tailgating party originated from alumni of the Sigma Nu fraternity, but over time, more of their friends began attending their party and it has grown ever since.

"Over time we have collected friends from outside the fraternity, but the nucleus is still the members of Sigma Nu," Bahlinger said.

The friendship developed throughout the fraternity still resounds today. People travel from across the country to watch an LSU football game and party with these tailgaters.

The friendly atmosphere creates a comfortable environment which makes it easy for guests to stop by this party. Everyone from an unknown fan to close friends is welcome.

Although these friends bleed purple and gold, they still invite visiting fans over to their tent and drink with them.

"We're cordial to them. We don't give them too hard of a time," Bahlinger said.

Bahlinger and his friends give a harder time to their former fraternity brothers than they do the opposing team. They joke around with each other and have a good time. They will even rag on their friends who are not present to defend themselves. Dave "the Nipple" Dawson, one of their Sigma Nu fraternity brothers, is the butt of many jokes these guys make while out there tailgating.

However, it is not all fun and games for the Mockler beverage tailgaters. Following the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mockler beverage donated cans of drinking water, nicknamed "Floodweiser," to the ravished areas.

They shipped them in from their main Anheuser Busch plant in St. Louis, and the Baton Rouge facility has been one of the main hubs for the relief effort.

"We delivered about seven million cans between Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana," Bahlinger said. "We're still delivering it."

Bahlinger said most of their shipments currently are going to Plaquemines Parish, one of the areas affected the worst by Hurricane Katrina.

This good nature shows the type of people present at this tailgate party. Nothing is done over the top. Instead, it is just a group of friends getting together to enjoy a Saturday of food, beer, and football.

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