A panel of three food experts will judge the competing parties, scoring by such categories as menu, décor, themes, and just plain demonstration of Mississippi State spirit. The contestants are scattered around the ‘Five Points' area and marked accordingly, though judges will also have cel phone numbers to help locate the parties if necessary. As last year's competition showed, these tailgating groups are easy to pick out.
Judges for this year's competition are: Valeda Carmichael, food stylist and caterer; Jim Fitzgerald of the MUW Culinary School; and Genna Parsons, food editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Naturally all Mississippi State fans are free to roam the grounds around Davis Wade Stadium and perhaps do some informal judging of their own.
Winning parties will be announced by halftime of Saturday's game at Scott Field, where Coach Sylvester Croom's Bulldogs plan to do some cooking of their own at the expense of the visiting Wildcats. Tailgating groups not entered in this year's competition can watch the preparation and judging of those that are, and get ideas for the 2005 contest. Also, Mississippi State has again been collecting ideas from entrants for the Best Bulldog Tailgating recipes, for publication in the Bulldog Club's e-newsletter.
The 2004 Tailgate Competition is again sponsored by Winn-Dixie…You'll Always Find Everything You Need at Your Neighborhood Winn-Dixie.