Barbecue. Beer. Music. If you’ve been to a tailgate, it can seem like this is all they are. However, the Cal Poly tailgate is more than that. The tailgate brings together hundreds of people to celebrate Cal Poly tradition and pride. The community built by the celebration radiates energy
and excitement.

Tradition and community

Homecoming, where Cal Poly football will go head-to-head with Portland State, is just around the corner. The Nov. 4 game will come with this year’s largest tailgate. The gathering along South Perimeter Road and College Avenue is an opportunity for the San Luis Obispo community to come together and celebrate Cal Poly’s tradition. For as long as Cal Poly has had a football team, there’s been a tailgate at every home game. Rain or shine, people come from all over to show their support for the Mustangs. Associated Students, Inc. President Riley Nilsen looks forward to introducing that tradition to students and building upon it.

“With the increase of freshmen and students on campus, we have an incredible opportunity to introduce them to our athletic traditions and engage them on campus,” Nilsen said. “I believe there are excellent changes being made toward making these experiences more memorable
for students.”

Nilsen also wanted to encourage current students and reaffirm that the tailgate isn’t just
for alumni.

“Students should pioneer and be leading their own tailgates like Fresno State,” Nilsen said. “From my understanding, this used to be something students could participate in and vendors like SLO Brew would be a part of the tailgating experience alongside students.”

Cal Poly pride

Everyone involved, from vendors to alumni, celebrates Cal Poly pride. Every shirt bears a Mustang, and every other person has green and gold paint adorning their faces. The Mustang Band perfectly demonstrates this pride during their parade. The 200-member Mustang Band dances and shouts down South Perimeter  Road at every home game. Mustang Band CEO Hannah Brown enjoys the energy and pride the band brings to game day.

“This is a great chance for Mustang fans to see the band up close,” biology junior Brown said. “The tailgate is personally one of my favorite moments of game day because the fans and the band pump each other up and really get the home game spirit going.”

Mustang Band has a long-standing relationship with Cal Poly athletics and supports their team at every football game and nearly all home games for volleyball and basketball.

“We do a great deal to show our university pride through our playing and performing.” Brown said. “When we put our Mustang Band uniforms on we become representatives of Cal Poly, and all of our pride for our school shows through our cheering, playing and marching.”

We’re all Mustangs

“Homecoming is a week where students and alumni come together to celebrate our dedication to the Learn by Doing philosophy we all believe in,” Nilsen said.

Past or present, green or gold. Regardless of where or when or how, the Homecoming tailgate brings the community together. It’s a great day to be a Mustang.

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