Friday, November 5, 2010

Iowa City Game Days

Football Saturdays are special whether you visit a college campus in the Big Ten or the Iowa Intercollegiate Conference. Alumni, boosters, students and fans come out in support of their local team. In the Midwest, the crisp Autumn afternoons with the leaves turning their colors and collecting on the grassy lawns that also collect cars and host the hot grills is a trademark of many college campuses. Iowa City is no different creating a special feel for a home Hawkeye game.

Kinnick Stadium sits off Melrose Avenue, the main artery which brings Big Ten fans to watch their top 20 team. Melrose lines a small neighborhood called University Heights consisting of many residential houses and condos as well as a church and a corner restaurant. Since my first day of attending Hawkeye Football games in the 1970s, the walk down Melrose hasn't changed to today. Fans continue to use St. Andrews Presbyterian Church for parking, tailgating and restrooms, and small souvenir shops line the final block before seeing the giant venue for the first time.

Across from Kinnick Stadium to the south is a long line of various food stands. The Iowa State Fair lasts for ten days in August, but the food booths continue every Saturday during the football season. While corn dogs on a stick may be the popular item at fair time in Des Moines, in Iowa City Hawkeye fans prefer "Meat on a Stick."
Grills constantly crank out burgers, dogs and brats with the smoke rising above the University Heights tree line. Hawkeye fans have a wide variety of meats to choose from as well as those that publicize them as the state's largest.

The long line of stands begin at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Melrose Court where the WMT Bumper Brigade grills the best home grown pork sandwiches from the local pork producers of Eastern Iowa to the Game Day Iowa clothing stand near the entrance of the Hawkeye Express.
However the most notable of tailgating fare are the "Big Ass Turkey Legs." Iowa fans proudly walk Melrose Avenue enjoying the large legs of turkey meat. Obviously Iowa fans don't buy the motto of "You are what you eat."
While the University of Iowa may not be the agricultural school in the state, the Hawkeye tailgating scene doesn't pale in comparison to the food stands found at the Iowa State Fair.

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