TONYA DAVENPORT: Yeah, we’re doing cabbage. We’re doing baked beans. We’re doing turkey wings. We’re doing barbeque wings. We’re going to fry a little wings.
STEWART: That’s Tonya Davenport. She’s here with her cousin Edmund Nelson, and they began setting up on Monday.
EDMUND NELSON: Grills, smokers, deep freezers – refrigerator’s on the way – couches, the full bar. I got speakers, TVs to hang.
STEWART: Nelson roots for Alabama State, but he’s more of a tailgating fan. He drove 800 miles from Miami to Birmingham two weeks ago to start preparing. He opens the door to a large cargo trailer stacked with supplies.
NELSON: Inside here there’s more TVs. We’re just getting ready for the Classic, something we do every year. It’s a big get together. My mom, she went to Alabama State. And every year, it just get’s bigger and bigger.
STEWART: Hundreds of tents have popped up, and in Nelson’s, there’s artificial turf on the ground, a matching sofa and loveseat and five barbecue grills. No matter where you go, you hear music.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
STEWART: Freddie Jones parked his RV across from one of his buddies. They set up a little courtyard in the middle, decked out with lights and a sound system. He says the Magic City Classic is popular because it’s different.
FREDDIE JONES: You can go tailgating for the other teams and Tennessee and what have you – Alabama. And you have these restrictions where you can’t play your music. But at the Magic City Classic, you can just about do what you want to do within reason – clean fun.
STEWART: At kickoff, for the 60,000 people inside the stadium, it’s about the bands, dancers, football. But for folks like Jones, the serious stuff happens outside, beyond the gate.
JONES: Everything that comes this way is going to get cooked. Don’t put your hand on the grill. We’re cooking that, too (laughter).
STEWART: Once the game between Alabama State and Alabama A&M is over, it doesn’t mean that the fun ends. Some of the tailgaters stick around through Sunday. For NPR News, I’m Sherrel Wheeler Stewart in Birmingham.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
News from WBHM will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.