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(Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press)

(Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press)

Rain, lightning doesn't stop McNeese fans from tailgating

Last Modified: Saturday, September 07, 2013 9:52 PM

By Albert Burford / American Press

Cloudy skies that threatened rain and early afternoon lightning strikes weren’t enough to keep Cowboys fans from showing up in numbers to tailgate for the first McNeese State home football game of the season Saturday.

In the parking lots outside Cowboy Stadium, the aromas and sights of football season filled the air, and RVs and lines of blue-and-gold tents speckled the surrounding area.

After the Cowboys’ 53-21 upset win at the University of South Florida last weekend, McNeese fans were hungry to welcome their team back for the home opener.

“It’s a good time when college football comes back,” said tailgater Richard Connor. “It brings a lot of people together, and we’re starting it off right with a good tailgate.”

Connor and friend Brent Miller were cooking up smoked boudin and ribs, but also a seemingly perfect tailgating dish called drunken chicken.

“It’s a whole chicken, marinate the outside, and they have these racks and you can sit it on a 16-ounce beer can,” Connor said. “While it cooks, the beer comes up and makes the chicken moist.”

Al Daboval, whose sister is vice president and provost at McNeese State, tailgates with a number of other families. Daboval and his cohorts even traveled to Tampa, Fla., last week for the Cowboys’ first game and said they travel to almost every game.

Daboval couldn’t recall the exact number of years they’ve been tailgating.

“We’ve been tailgating since when this used to be grass,” he said, looking down at the parking lot pavement. “Ever since they allowed us.”

While some tailgaters strayed away from the barbecue pits due to late summer heat and humidity, John Jones was undeterred by the heat and wasn’t afraid of the possibility of rain.

“It’s never too hot for the pit,” he said. “We’re not really worried about the weather. We’re gonna do it. We’ve been out here in the rain.”

Jones proudly ran over the list of food available at his tent. “Ribs, sausage, boudin, jalapeno poppers, beans, dirty rice, chips, corn on the cob, all made right here,” he said. “Next week, we’ll be having jambalaya. Every tailgate, we change it up.”

Connor and his tailgating crew said they kept track of the weather without the help of technology, watching the flags over Cowboy Stadium for clues on where the clouds were headed.

The late start time was praised by many tailgaters.

“The atmosphere is back to a football atmosphere, which is good,” Daboval said. “A later game at 7:30 is good to get the sun down so it won’t be blinding everybody.”

Regardless of weather or cooking traditions, all tailgaters seemed to be happy to be back in the habit of Saturdays full of football and food.

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