Lahasky has driven his RV around the SEC, and he says he knows why NO TAILGATING SCENE COMPARES TO LSU'S. "There's people still partying over here—30,000 people—while the game's going on."
THE USUAL SUSPECTS began tailgating on a corner spot near the Indian Mounds on LSU's campus 24 years ago. "It started with a 12-pack of Milwaukee's Best and a bag of Doritos," says Baton Rouge attorney Luke Williamson, who organizes the tailgate along with a group of friends from his undergraduate and law school days. He says this as a DJ blasts the hits of the 1990s and 2000s and hundreds of revelers party under a 16-foot tall inflatable tent. The group has evolved.
It's a few hours before LSU and Auburn kick off on Oct. 14, and the self-funded Usual Suspects have a fully staffed bar with lines four deep, a catered buffet serving fajitas, and a metal pole in the center of the tent attracting dancers of both genders. Williamson swore to his wife a day earlier that he wouldn't put up the pole, and he maintains that he did not break that promise: He did not physically put it up. Williamson was going to order an ice luge course—a frozen sculpture of a sliding track for delivering vodka shots—but he worried that after the last home game, a loss to Troy, the crowd might be too subdued going into the Auburn game. He was wrong. On this Saturday the Suspects emptied more than 30 1.5-liter bottles of liquor.
At any other school the Suspects' tailgate would be the most over-the-top on campus. In Baton Rouge, home of the best tailgate in America, however, the Suspects blend into a purple-and-gold party that starts on Friday night and ends long after the sun sets Saturday evening. Other schools may try—at Tennessee, Washington and Baylor's waterfront stadiums, sail-gaters tie up their boats nearby, and the Grove at Ole Miss claims to be the best and may be to everyone who hasn't been to Baton Rouge.
But nothing compares to LSU, where in one corner of the RV lot known as Touchdown Village, Fred Beam and Jaime San Andres have set up a 24-foot bar with a 30-year-old daiquiri machine that Beam brags has more career knockouts than Muhammad Ali. San Andres, who runs an auto body shop in Paulina, La., and looks like a taller, thicker Vin Diesel, estimates they'll go through 10 gallons of daiquiris and 15 cases of beer. If Tigers fans are hungry, they can amble over to a neighboring tailgate and grab some crawfish étouffée or barbecued shrimp.
About 30 yards away, Ronald Lahasky and his sons have four kinds of boudin on a table outside their RV. The Lahasky version of the cajun delicacy that packs meat, spices and rice into sausage casing is critical to LSU's fortunes. "If we don't have boudin," Ronald says, "we don't win." Lahasky has driven that RV around the SEC, and he believes he knows why no tailgating scene compares to LSU's. "There's people still partying over here—30,000 people—while the game's going on," he says. "Twenty thousand of them don't know the game has started."
On this day more than 100,000 people stream into Tiger Stadium in the early afternoon—they hate day games here—and at least 20,000 return to the tailgates when Auburn takes an early 20--0 lead. In tents and RVs thousands watch on flatscreens as LSU storms back for a 27--23 win. Later thousands more spill from the stadium, back to Touchdown Village. "We don't fish. We don't hunt. We don't play golf," San Andres says. "We do party, and we don't want nobody to outdo our party."
Andy Staples tours the LSU tailgate scene. Watch SI TV on Amazon Channels.