#7 of 31: LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee

October 23, 2011


Nashville, TNLP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, is an intriguing structure. From many angles it soars against a near back drop of the towering downtown Nashville skyline. From other angles it is just a jumble of steel girders and parking lots. It was designed by the architectural firm, Populous. (The same group that did Yankee Stadium and Wimbledon Centre Court.) There is a pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland River leading to the stadium from the heart of downtown Nashville. The stadium's upper deck looks way too open and way, way too upper for me... (I am sure I would get blown away or tumble forward).

Glowing and flashing against the city skyline

There are no Fräuleins in football!

But enough...let's get tailgating. This week we started TWO days early. Friday evening we went to the LFFA1 Sports Bar across from the stadium, Gerst Haus. The place is  a beer hall cum sports bar with an oompah band and dirndl clad waitresses. There were 25 kinds of beer on tap and a refrigerator full of other imports. As hoped, we were able to sit at the bar and enjoy our mixed-sausage plates with warm potato salad and one of our favorite fermented foods - sauerkraut.

Saturday, the day before the game, we hooked up with Wayne Vandervort and his crew at http://firstclasstailgaters.com/.

There we got to visit his industrial kitchen completely inside an intermodal shipping container. Within its walls he and his various chefs and friends prepare a tailgating feast for one to two hundred people. Gumbo, chili, ribs, chicken and dumplings... all could be seen and tasted as the fun cooks made their preparations.

Wayne Vandervort and his crew at firstclasstailgaters.com.

Full industrial kitchen is in this ship's container.
(Inset) Wayne slow-cooking about 100 racks of ribs in his Crown-X warmer.

The crew has three tailgating vehicles they pull into the Titans parking lot at 8 AM on gameday - a fan bus, a graphically fabulous rolling kitchen and a towable bar. Packed in with all of this are pre-packed palettes containing everything else needed to set up a virtual restaurant. Tables, chairs, generators, steam tables, deep fat fryers, pizza ovens... Once in the parking lot the crew deploys like an army on maneuvers. Within minutes everything is pulled apart, opened, put in place and the final cooking begins. From nowhere, spaghetti, hamburgers, brats, corn dogs, chicken fingers, six kinds of beer, sauerkraut and numerous desserts are set out and the feast begins with the stadium and the Nashville skyline in the background.

The First Class Tailgaters group always brings more than enough food, because when the fans go into the stadium for the game, a large TV is set up and the chauffeurs, truck drivers, police and other game-day workers are invited to enjoy the buffet and watch the game.


The Tennessee Titans, formerly the Houston Oilers, have only been in Nashville since 1999, but there is already a substantial base of tailgating fans in the lots. Many large and extended families have built traditions based on the Music City culture they are part of. Lots of country music, a few live bands and a few single pickers and singers were present. One couple and their extended family explained to me that they never thought their smaller city could attract an NFL team and they want to keep that team here. “We love our Titans!”

The Tennessee Titans substantial base of tailgating fans in the lots


Three things stood out in the Titan's lots. The first was the large number of tailgating groups that consisted of mostly or all women. Secondly there were lots and lots of children enjoying the festivities. (There was even a blow-up playground for them in front of the stadium). Finally, there were many, many mixed race groups cooking and partying together. A great crowd! Three things stood out in the Titan’s lots. The first was the large number of tailgating groups that consisted of mostly or all women

It was a perfect fall morning. Light was streaming through the scarlet and gold leaves of the young trees as we walked among the party tents and the crowds of laughing, singing and backslapping friends. At times I felt like a creature from another dimension, just following the heavenly smells of barbecue, ribs and brats from one lot to another. Everyone was so hospitable and welcoming...and funny.


As we passed, a friend of Vivian and Gary Alley's lured us into their buffet insisting we had to try the couple's Buffalo Chicken Dip. On such a strong recommendation, and throwing caution to the wind, we partook of some of their delicious, super cheesy dip (no cameras were dripped upon during the testing of the recipe).

One brave young woman, surrounded by friends and kids, was bending over a cauldron of boiling oil in order to deep fat fry Hostess Twinkies. She would spear a Twinkie with a bamboo stick, dip it in batter and then fry it in the vat of bubbling oil. The Twinkie would puff up and turn a beautiful golden brown and she would plunk it onto a serving pan. I was tempted to park myself in one of their camp chairs and wait to be served the delicacy doused with powdered sugar. (...perhaps with a sip of Duck Hunter's Special2 from my little “Keep Warm Flask”)

The Flame BrothersHowever, I kept going and soon came upon two men with wigs of flaming  red hair, Titan team colored zoot suits, blue and white wing tip shoes and intense blue and white make up. These were The Flame Brothers. I learned that Titans fans aspire to be Flameheads, like the Packers fans are Cheeseheads. These guys were utterly charming and they dress the way they do because they love meeting people, making friends and cheering the Titans on to the Super Bowl.




Final: Titans 7, Texans 41

1. LFFA = Local Football Fan Approved

2. Duck Hunters Special is made from 1 cup Cream Sherry and 1 Cup cheap, burning bourbon - it warms the body and the soul

It looks like you finally met some fans that can party almost as hard as the Browns fans. Almost.

I’m enjoying your emails and I still envy your lifestyle. Please keep on enjoying the journey.

Scott Nunnari
Muni Lot Browns Backers


Hi guys, I think this is the best best issue of places yet! :-) Bernie. The video is a great! My mouth was watering looking at all of food have you guys stay away from it.

Love you

I met you at the Titans tailgating.  I was one of the tailgaters where you took pictures of V & G’s Buffalo Chicken Dip.  Just want to say it was a pleasure meeting you and wish you well on your journey.  I love your website and I will follow as you travel around the country.  Hope you enjoy your stay in Tennessee and have a safe trip out there on the road!

Glenn G

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