Game, not beer, the drawing card for UISG’s tailgate


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At the first UI Student Government-sponsored event with alcohol, the beer seemed to stay on the sidelines.

By the end of the first half of the Battle of the Roses tailgate, the 170 Hawkeye fans flooding the IMU River Room for the Ohio State game had only purchased 10 beers, said UISG volunteer Nathan Beekman. By the end of the game, fans had consumed a total of 28 beers.

“I came today for the mozzarella sticks, honestly,” UI junior Eric Jesteadt said. “I’m 21, and I can drink, but it’s just not a priority for me. This kind of event is good because it brings drinkers and nondrinkers together in an environment where they are usually separate.”

Though UISG has hosted a tailgate for each Hawkeye football away game this season, last weekend’s Battle of the Roses was the first with alcohol on hand. Most UISG officials weren’t drinking during the event.

As the room swelled with Black and Gold pride — a large blend of UI students and local families — big-screen televisions flickered awake, and the focus quickly shifted from beer to football.

UISG student organizations director Larry Hau, one of the event’s main planners, said the high attendance was due in large part to marketing. Past UISG tailgates have drawn in around 100 people, he added.

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He noted the tailgate was popular because it was the first to be catered by IMU Catering — which offered brats and chicken wings for a price — and because of the magnitude of the Nov. 14 game.

“We want to bring people together who wouldn’t ordinarily watch the game in the same place,” Hau said. “And we talked with school officials to make sure that we took the necessary security precautions to make that happen.”

UISG volunteers, armed with ID scanners, tagged guests over 21 with green wrist bands, while they gave underage tailgaters red bands.

Beer sales began after kickoff; the event allowed for each attendee to have a maximum of two drinks. Catering staff checked IDs again at the beer station before the guests could get their hands on a cup of suds. A pair of Iowa City police officers randomly asked guests with green wrist bands for their IDs.

“People are obviously not coming here to get drunk,” Beekman said. “This is a friendly atmosphere, with kids and their families, and these people are just here today to watch the game.”

That atmosphere included Herky and students got the chance to buy season basketball tickets.

During the second half, the Iowa men’s basketball team showed up to help excite the crowd.

The majority of fans in attendance stayed to watch their Hawkeyes until the bitter end, with the complimentary sodas disappearing at a much quicker rate then the alcohol.

And when the game ended with a Buckeye field goal in overtime, the fans fell silent and the first wet tailgate ended without any celebratory toasts.

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