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Tailgating brings family friends together at Pittsburg State
The "Original Tailgaters" will be tailgating in style Saturday at the last home game of the season.

Tailgating brings family friends together at Pittsburg State

Keith Richey’s day job, as the marketing sales manager for AZZ Incorporated in Pittsburg, has him focused on business during the week. But on game day weekends at Pittsburg State, his attention turns to a topic for which Gorilla fans have become famous: tailgating.

“We started doing this (tailgating) right after the 1991 championship,” said Richey. “We started with a little cooler and a grill. It grew throughout the years, and we’ll have 20 to 30 people with us each week. We’re actually on our third generation of tailgaters now.”

Richey’s group, known as “The Original Tailgaters,” is no longer content with tailgating staples such as burgers and brats. Instead, the group’s set-up consists of full-sized smokers, propane grills, multiple tents, tables, chairs and more.

“It’s a team effort,” said Richey. “I send out the menu at the beginning of the week on our Facebook page. One of the gentlemen comes out the night before to set up the tent, another one brings the tables, some of them line up the food duties, and our wives bring in desserts and things.”

“The Original Tailgaters’” set-up may sound extravagant, but it’s actually fairly common place at Pittsburg State.

Just to the south of Richey and his crew are longtime Pitt State tailgaters Shawn Pryor, Dave Blessent and John Ketterman. These fans, with a lot of help from their wives, begin game days at 6 a.m. by baking homemade biscuits and gravy in Dutch ovens.

“We make a day of it,” said Blessent. “It’s a great way to see friends and catch up on the week. We love to see everyone come together to support our Gorillas.”

Gretchen Bolander, an “Original Tailgater” member for nearly 20 years, said the atmosphere is one of the reasons she and her husband, Troy, never miss a game day.

“Everybody knows everyone at least by sight if not by name,” said Bolander. “And anybody is welcome. We’ve actually had the president of MSSU at our tailgate. There’s always going to be competitiveness, but in a friendly way. It’s part of the fun.”

Tailgaters seem to be going all out for Saturday’s regular-season finale. Pryor and Blessent plan on bringing a full-sized Chuck Wagon and cooking plenty of homemade chili in their Dutch ovens.

On the menu: “Barbeque ribs, stuffed pork loin, gouda macaroni and cheese, and more,” said Bolander.

Pittsburg State University will host Missouri Southern State University on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Carnie Smith Stadium. Kick-off is set for 2 p.m.

Pittsburg State’s parking lot will open at 7 a.m. on Saturday for tailgaters and fans. Fans can take advantage of the university’s “Family 4 Pack” discounted ticket promotion. Fans can get four general admission tickets for just $40.

Saturday’s game is “Military Appreciation” day at the stadium. Pittsburg State alumnus, LTC Gary Hatfield, USA, Retired, will be inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame during a ceremony prior to kick-off, and ROTC cadets will be contracted into the ARMY ROTC program during a special halftime event.

Fans can listen to the game on the Gorilla Sports Network or online using the Gorilla Experience app for both Android and iPhone.

Tailgating brings family friends together at Pittsburg State

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