There was an air of excitement Sunday as both Baylor and Waco communities took part in numerous tailgating activities before the kickoff at McLane Stadium.
George’s Party Zone, across from McLane Stadium on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was indeed a party zone, with dozens of tents and booths set up. Families and students took shade from the heat while barbecuing, listening to radios and tossing balls around between the tents.
Vendors at George’s tailgating site included Vanilla Bean, Common Grounds and Papi Taco.
Lane Olvera, who worked at the Papi Taco site, said she couldn’t be more excited to be part of the tailgating event.
“We’re happy to be out here,” Olvera said. “It’s our first time and a great opportunity. We’re wishing the Bears a great game.”
Darwin Nail, Texas country music artist, entertained visitors at George’s site and prepared the crowd for headliner Zach Greenland.
George’s owner, Sammy Citrano, said it was amazing to be part of the game day’s festivities.
“It’s been fun and it’s a historical event,” Citrano said. “We’ve been doing tailgating at Floyd Casey for the past 17 years and now we get to do this.”
Greg Fuller, 1982 Baylor alumnus, said he is a regular tailgater at Baylor games and with the new stadium on the Brazos, the experience has been amplified.
“The atmosphere here is 10 times better than before,” Fuller said. “There’s better access and we have a much better spot.”
Lone Star Tailgate, outside the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on University Parks Drive, also had local businesses set up as more fans gathered before the game.
The voice of Texas country star Cameron Nelson was heard as people walked into the venue, accompanying the smell of barbecue from Uncle Dan’s BBQ food truck.
Jim Alvarado, a radio personality from Waco’s radio station 92.9 Shooter FM, said the station was responsible for securing live acts from country singers like Nelson at the tailgating event and will continue to do so in the future.
“It’s been really cool today, the crowd has been really good,” Alvarado said on Sunday. “We’ll be here every home game bringing different country artists who all have a song out in the top five charts.”
Tailgaters could be seen enjoying music and food under tents as well as playing games like horseshoes and cornhole.
Shelly Stripling, a Baylor alumna, was at Lone Star Tailgate and said she believed Sunday’s game was going to change the meaning of Baylor football.
“This is entering a new era,” Stripling said on Sunday. “I grew up in Waco and have been going to games my whole life. Today’s been good so far and I’m so excited.”