Friday night’s menu? Sausage, chicken, hamburgers and pork ribs grilled on the barbecue pit.
The game day menu? Jambalaya, white beans and rice, and fried shrimp.
But the food is for later.
Friday afternoon for an LSU tailgater is a time to sweat, work and prepare, and that’s exactly what Carl and Gail Soudelier, of Golden Meadow, and Dennis and Mary Collins, of Galliano, learned Friday.
The two couples from Lafourche Parish, along with Gail Soudelier’s cousin, Jeanette Griffin, of Galliano, are tailgating for the first time.
Their guide for the weekend is tailgating veteran and LSU season ticketholder Shannon Soudelier, Gail and Carl’s son.
“I don’t want to miss nothing,” said Gail Soudelier, who was decked out in a pink LSU T-shirt and purple-and-gold-painted nails.
Friday marked the tailgating kickoff of LSU’s 2013 football home opener against Alabama-Birmingham. Fans will notice some minor changes mostly related to parking.
Just after 6:30 a.m. Friday, RV and motor home owners were allowed to move into their permitted spaces in the Cow Pasture Lot across from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive.
The game begins at 6 p.m. Saturday but by then the tailgaters will have already finished one party on Friday night and should be deep into the long party that is game day outside Tiger Stadium.
After Carl and Shannon Soudelier placed their LSU flag atop the ladder on the back of Carl Soudelier’s 40-foot motor home, Mary Collins, Gail Soudelier and Griffin opened up folding chairs and unrolled a giant New Orleans Saints rug next in front of the Collins’ motor home.
“We love the Saints too. We will be listening to their game (against Atlanta) on the way home Sunday,” Gail Soudelier said.
Later, Mary Collins pulled out a cherry red Fender guitar amplifier for the group’s television. “We gotta hear the game,” Mary Collins said.
The Lafourche clan won’t hesitate to say they are tailgating beginners.
Ricky Davis, of Zachary, said he can spot a tailgating beginner a mile away.
“You can always tell the new tailgaters because they look so uncoordinated when setting everything up,” Davis said Friday afternoon while putting up tents at his parking spot near the very back of the Cow Pasture Lot.
Davis, 39, and his friend Jared Shaw, an LSU graduate who lives in Mississippi, have been tailgating at LSU games for more than 20 years.
It’s hard to miss their motor home in a sea of shiny beige and brown RVs that crowd the lot.
Davis painted the barely road-worthy 1983 motor home purple and gold.
“We’re lucky we made it to this tailgate. It’s about all it can do now,” Davis said.
The motor home, which belongs to Shaw, features the home team colors, a tiger and two giant tiger eyes painted just under the driver- and passenger-side windshields.
“For me, it’s all about the people. I love meeting people and I love people watching,” Davis said when asked about his favorite aspect of the tailgate.
Davis said he has met many people over the years through tailgating. The motor home bathroom walls are made of chalkboard and people have signed the walls over time.
David and Tana Jones, of Lafayette, on the other hand, have not met a lot of people tailgating.
Saturday’s game will mark their first venture into the world of game day partying on campus.
The couple decided to try it this year because their daughter is a freshman at LSU.
“She’s finishing her homework right now so she can come and meet us later,” Tana Jones said while sitting outside the couple’s travel trailer Friday afternoon.
David Jones said steaks and baked potatoes were planned for dinner Friday night while the couple will feast on brisket, jambalaya and sausage on game day.
The Joneses seemed to have all the tailgating essentials ready and operational Friday — a television, a huge fan, an ice chest filled with beverages and a generator.
“I love the camaraderie with people in Louisiana. There’s nobody like Louisiana people and we will be meeting so many of them this weekend,” David Jones said.
Louisiana people also like to plan their next meal as well as their next tailgate.
“We’ll be frying a turkey and making gumbo,” Gail Soudelier said, smiling.
The Soudeliers and their friends and family will be back at the Cow Pasture Lot on Thanksgiving to tailgate for the LSU-Arkansas game on Nov. 29.