From Lambeau Field to Tiger Stadium

For one day every year, families and friends come together, socialize with everybody around them, stuff themselves with outrageous amounts of food, and finish the gathering by watching football.

No, this is not Thanksgiving. This is the annual occurrence every Friday after Turkey Day when LSU takes on Arkansas.

Despite enjoying family time the day before, many Tiger tailgaters decide to continue the celebration and bring Thanksgiving to Tiger Stadium. LSU fans bring their families from across the nation to experience tailgating Cajun style.

Located near Mike the Tiger's new habitat, one family gathered relatives from as far as Green Bay, Wisconsin to tailgate and introduce them to Tiger football.

Paul Fisher and his brother Brandon have been tailgating for over five years and enjoy the opportunity Thanksgiving Day gives families to party on LSU's campus.

"It's a good way to get everybody together with Thanksgiving and watch LSU win one more game," Paul said.

Full stomachs and expanding waistlines cannot stop these Tiger tailgaters from coming out and celebrating the final LSU home game of the season.

"With the atmosphere, it is the best place to be on typically a Saturday, but now a Friday," Paul said. "I wouldn't think of doing anything else."

Just because Thursday is the traditional day to eat turkey does not mean it is any less of a tailgating food. Paul and his family fried two turkeys, and finished the spread with potato salad and chips.

In order to serve this heavy helping of food, Paul and his family arrived at Tiger Stadium at 8 am. Despite the best efforts of the tryptophan to put them to sleep, everybody eagerly awaited the start of the game.

In order to pass the time before heading inside the stadium, these tailgaters keep themselves busy socializing with their family as well as some non blood related people.

"We get out here and start throwing the football around with some of the other tailgaters," Paul said.

Despite not knowing anybody from the other groups, everybody shares a passion for LSU football and that brings them all together.

"We don't know them when first get out here, but by the time we leave, we do," Paul said.

One familiar face that LSU athletic fans might recognize is Nicki Arnstad, LSU's two time All-American gymnast who won the national championship in the floor exercise in 2002.

After graduating three years ago, Arnstad came back to LSU to work in promotions for the Athletic Administration. The allure of the university and its athletic program drew Arnstad back.

"I loved the campus immediately when I came here," Arnstad said.

With her commitment to gymnastics, Arnstad did not have the time to be an avid fan of other LSU athletic programs, but with her job, she has developed a new found love of all sports.

"Now, I don't think I could get out of LSU athletics," Arnstad said.

Even though her job forced her to work before game and prevents her from enjoying the gameday atmosphere, she brought her parents, Edward and Terri Arnstad, from Green Bay to enjoy the southern weather and hospitality.

This Thanksgiving marked the Arnstads' first taste of fried turkey. These Wisconsin natives may not have developed the Cajun tongue just yet, but they are learning to appreciate Cajun cooking.

"I was afraid it was going to be too spicy, but it was just right," Terri Arnstad said. "Slowly but surely we're getting more Cajun."

The Arnstads are not new to great tailgating traditions. Being from Green Bay, the Arnstads are experienced with the Packers and the most notorious football fans in the NFL.

Although Green Bay and LSU both have reputations as great tailgaters, the Arnstads can point out a few differences between the two football fan bases. Terri acknowledged food as the greatest difference. While Packers fans serve bratwursts and pigs before the game, LSU fans stick with Cajun cuisine like fried turkeys and boudin.

Despite the food, the Arnstads agree that Tiger tailgaters party with the same intensity as the Packers fan do in the north. However, when comparing LSU to other colleges up north in terms of tailgating, the Tigers win hands down.

"We though that the Wisconsin Badgers tailgate pretty heavily, but they don't open their campus until a couple of hours before the game," Terri said. "Yours is like an all week event."

Bringing people together to experience LSU football is what tailgating is all about. No other town but Baton Rouge can offer an atmosphere to continue the Thanksgiving feast one more day. After all, on gamedays, every Tiger fan is family.

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