SALT LAKE CITY — Excitement and anticipation is building on the University of Utah campus as Utes football is set to kick off a brand new season Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
But there are a lot of fans just as excited for the off-the-field activities connected to the game.
Tailgating is something Utah fans were unable to do last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But after a season off, they’re fired up to get together with family and friends outside the stadium.
One group of fans have been together for nearly a decade, but the coronavirus wiped out nearly all large gatherings last year, including tailgate parties. Now they’re back and could not be more excited!
Mark Johns and some of his fellow university coworkers basically have it all: Cornhole, cocktails, cable TV and a couch to watch the game when it starts.
Even though he’s a huge football fan, Johns says the camaraderie of the tailgate is the main thing he and his crew missed last year.
“We love to host everybody here, we have a bar set up we have plenty of food," said Johns. "We’re doing pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans and mac & cheese and potato salad and slaw and the whole 9 yards. We’ll have probably about 20 or 25 people here show up, maybe 35 throughout the day, just good for friends and family.”
Johns provided lunch Thursday for roughly two dozen of his coworkers who will come and eat, but then go back to work while the tailgaters stay and hang out the rest of the day.
And they may not even choose to go inside the stadium at kickoff because things are pretty cozy where they are.