There was a buzz happening in the parking lots surrounding Bulldog Stadium. And, it wasn’t just because of the free flow of alcohol before noon as Fresno State celebrated the start of its 100th year of football on Saturday.
Or, maybe it was.
“It’s breakfast booze,” one tailgater told me of the Irish coffees, Bloody Mary’s, and mimosas being poured at parties happening before the 11 a.m. kickoff.
For the first time since November 2019, “barking” was allowed inside the stadium and out. And Red Wavers were ecstatic to be able to celebrate their team.
Amid the sweltering heat, Bulldog fans got what they came for: a 45-0 Fresno State dismantling of UConn led by quarterback Jake Haener and defensive end Arron Mosby.
Tailgate Streaks Still Intact
Revelers I spoke with said they don’t count last year as breaking consecutive-game tailgating streaks, some going back decades.
Family Traditions Continues
Keeley Bramer resumed his tailgate for family and friends, named after his father Dick Bramer who started the party in 1983.
“We say we’ve been barking on Barstow since 1983,” Keeley said. Keeley lettered for the football team in 1979 and 1980. His son Lars also played for Fresno State from 2009-2013.
Because of the morning kickoff, the traditional tri-tip was replaced with breakfast burritos. Guest Katelyn Arnold used bacon as a garnish for her Bloody Mary.
“We’re just elated seeing some friends, not family, but friends we haven’t seen in some time and go support the Bulldogs,” Bramer said.
Outside the westside of the stadium, David Cruce resumed his family’s traditional tailgate.
“Last year I was going through withdrawal. So this is awesome to be back,” Cruce said. “We cook a full meal every game and we always cook to the team we’re playing.”
For example, the Sept. 11 game vs. Cal Poly will feature tri-tip. On Saturday, it was breakfast food and booze.
Politics and Football
Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno, left his work clothes at home and came to party at the Central Labor Council tailgate — adjacent to Margie Wright Stadium, Fresno State’s softball facility.
He had his Bulldogs shirt, shorts, and casual shoes. It was a union event, so pancakes were the order of the day. Costa, along with several other local elected leaders, served and kibitzed underneath the tents.
Dillon Savory, with the Central Labor Council, expected 700 people — making it the largest tailgate of the day.
“It’s kind of like a family reunion for all the folks that are activists in the labor movement,” Savory said. “This is kind of a new concept for us. But we’ve been serving pancakes from eight to noon for the last decade and a half. So this is just a new location and a little bit more fun.”
Corporations Get Fancy, Too
“The tailgate is for our staff and their families, for our customers and our families and for anyone that doesn’t yet know they’re a customer.” — Fresno First Bank CEO Steve Miller
The most elaborate tent on the westside parking lot belonged to Fresno First Bank. Their setup featured a full bar and crepe station.
“We do this for a couple of reasons. The tailgate is for our staff and their families, for our customers and our families and for anyone that doesn’t yet know they’re a customer,” bank CEO Steve Miller said.
Last week, the bank signed Haley and Hanna Cavinder, Fresno State’s star women’s basketball players and social media stars, to promote the bank. College players are now allowed to be paid for their name, image, and likeness.
“We’re always looking for a different angle to take in terms of how we advertise in social media and just kind of creating new assets,” Miller said. “Wouldn’t it be fun for a boring bank to do something fun?”
Unfortunately, the Cavinder twins weren’t at the tailgate. But, the bank says other Fresno State student-athletes will be joining in the future.
It’s great to see @CavinderHaley and @CavinderHanna are fitting right in at Fresno First Bank. Thanks for helping us tune up our digital strategy team.#NIL #FresnoFirstBank #CollegeBasketball #ballin pic.twitter.com/Dd8XAAS5tA
— Fresno First Bank (@fresnofirstbank) August 26, 2021