Editor’s note: Folks I want y’all to welcome Dee to the And the Valley Shook family!
When rumors started flying a couple of weeks ago that LSU would face Wisconsin in our bowl game, I immediately texted my favorite Badger, Paige Wolski. We met in law school and quickly bonded over our mutual love of tailgating and college football. I got to hear her stories of partying with J.J. Watt in the snow and she got to watch me try to (unsuccessfully) flirt with Brad Wing at Bogies. She adopted LSU as a second favorite team, and I similarly rooted for the mighty Badgers against their foes.
Despite our fast friendship Paige and I have had one major disagreement that has never been resolved- which of our fanbases parties the hardest and the best? There is no better time to settle the debate than now, as our teams gear up to face each other in the ReliaQuest Bowl. Paige joins me below to duke it out in four main categories- food, booze, bar scene, and tailgating.
Dee: Everyone knows that Louisiana loves food, and that extends to our tailgates. I go to the DVA Tailgate by the Indian Mounds for every game and Zach cooks some amazing food. Just this season we’ve had jambalaya, alligator sauce piquant, boudin balls, and gumbo. I’ve seen other tailgates grilling whole (albeit small) alligators for the Florida game. How does Wisconsin compare?
Paige: Wisconsin food is very good too, and we have more French influences than people realize. At football games, though, you’re not going to see as much variety. Staples you’ll see like brats, burgers, hot dogs- lots of basic grilled foods. Cheese is everywhere, obviously! From the student side, there’s not a lot of food happening- you’re mostly just drinking and when you need a snack you better find it! Our Bloody Marys come pretty stacked… it’s not just vodka and tomato juice, you’ll get beef sticks and pickled eggs, cheese curds, string cheese. It’s a meal.
Dee: I love that we are including a Bloody Mary under food and not booze- this sums up perfectly what I know about Wisconsin fans.
Paige: Yep! Up here, A Bloody Mary comes with a beer chaser too, something nice, fresh, local, maybe a Spotted Cow. (Note: Wisconsin is so serious about this beer that it is illegal to sell it outside of the state. Seriously, look it up.) I definitely give LSU the win on food. One of my favorite memories of LSU is seeing guys haul out a giant cauldron to make jambalaya under an old oak tree, and I’ve never found another jambalaya that good! There’s something special about food at LSU tailgates.
Dee: Outside of the giant Bloody Marys, what do y’all drink up there? I feel like it’s vodka?
Paige: We drink everything! Mostly, we drink a lot, a lot, a LOT of beer! I think the mode of drinking is different too. Here, there are always kegs, but we also see a lot of beer bongs. Not just any beer bongs, but multi-story beer bongs set up around certain apartments near campus. People pick out apartments near campus with the ability to have these beer bongs as part of their criteria!
When I think of Louisiana specific drinks, on the other hand, I think of frozen Daiquiris and lots and lots of brown liquor.
Dee: It’s funny you say Daiquiris because an amazing thing happened this season and they actually started selling frozen Daiquiris *inside* the stadium! It’s amazing! You’re definitely not wrong on the brown liquor either- every tailgate has a table with bottles of Jack and Jim on it.
Paige: I am so sad that I didn’t get to experience the daiquiris while I was there.
Dee- We are also now the Jello Shot National Champions at LSU, which is fun! But overall I think we probably have to call a tie on alcohol.
Dee: Let’s switch over to the bar scene, you and I actually met at Bogies and we have definitely had some very memorable times at Tigerland! How does the bar scene look at Wisconsin?
Paige: The bars here make almost a trail from the State Capitol all the way to the stadium. It’s great! We have a much more walkable campus and walkable bar scene. State Street runs from the State Capitol all the way down to campus and it’s all bars, restaurants, and shops. Langdon Street is Greek Row, and runs parallel to State Street. Or there is also Regent Street, which is pretty similar to State and runs all the way to Camp Randall, the stadium. Then, when you get to campus, both of our Student Unions sell alcohol.
Paige- Yes! It has… forever? I don’t remember them ever not selling it. When I was touring schools for law school, I was very confused that other schools’ unions did not sell alcohol. There are two places in the Memorial Union- Der Rathskeller and Der Stiftskeller- and The Sett Pub in Union South, where you can get cheese curds and brats, very German food, and then ale, cider, beer, wine.
Dee- Despite our many, many fun nights in Tigerland, it does sound like the Badgers win on the bar scene!
Dee: Okay, let’s talk tailgating. We take tailgating very seriously, and there is nothing LSU fans hate more than an 11 AM kickoff. I’ve had actual, serious conversations with friends about how the Louisiana Legislature should ban day games so that CBS, ESPN, or whoever, can’t make us play early. We want Saturday night in Death Valley, or nothing. But, 11 am is pretty normal for y’all, right?
Paige: Yeah, 11 am, 2:30 pm is normal. If we have a big game, like Ohio State, that would be 6 PM, primetime television. Part of me thinks the reason why we have so many 11 am games is because of how cold it gets in the winter. You would just freeze sitting out there at night.
Dee: As opposed to LSU, where we melt during day games because it is so hot early in the season! At least while you’re tailgating you have a tent over you to block the sun.
Paige: Exactly! Our climate here is nice and beautiful through most of October, but after that it is brutal. It is still cold, but you still go tailgating, you just wear a liquor coat. Because of the early games, your tailgate days have to be structured differently. I remember at LSU, tailgating would start around noon, tailgate all day, and then head to the stadium around 6 pm.
Dee: I get up there earlier now than I did in law school, but the guys that run the tailgate are there super early to get everything set up and start cooking. But essentially, yes. I usually start off walking to the tailgate with a Monster and vodka. Are open container laws an issue there?
Paige: Technically, no. In reality it happens. They are more strict- you are not supposed to have an open container on the sidewalk, or on the street. You have to finish your drink before you move to the next location. Overall, I think the pacing is the biggest difference between LSU and the Badgers. There is a sense of urgency because the game starts so early. At LSU, you have all day so you can take your time. We have to start as soon as we get up.
Dee: Can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning!
Paige: It’s really just the pregame that is rushed, it’s really an all day event after the game, just like at LSU. Part of the experience here is just getting to the game, making your way down State Street, stopping to do a three-story beer bong on your way!
Dee: Sounds like this might be another tie! We both like to tailgate, you just have to speed yours up!
In many ways, Wisconsin and LSU fans are the perfect best friends. We might be in different conferences and have very different weather, but we both have the same love of football, friends, food, and fun. Regardless of who wins the ReliaQuest Bowl on January 1st, we both hope Tampa is ready for the collective fan bases that are about to hit them- it’s going to be a wild ride!