Game-day ambience can be elevated by using table linens in school colors, fresh flowers and game-related décor.  Photo by Kelli Boyd Photography + Lydia Menzies Celebrates

In the South, football is sacred. We hold our favorite teams in high regard when we’re happy with them, and fuss at them like nobody’s business when we are not. We are a region of rituals and traditions, and we’re in the midst of our No. 1 time of the year right now. We recently gathered the Coastal Illustrated team, including its newest members, and asked them about the game-day traditions they hold dear – and we picked up a few recipes and beverage recs as well.

Cheri Leavy


EAT: I love to make simple dishes that are easy to nibble while mingling at a tailgate. Most of my favorite ideas come from my friend, Lydia Menzies, who has so many shortcuts and time saving tips to create the most charming gatherings. Lydia knows how to celebrate everything. For the Red & Black tailgate pictured, she did box brownies and dubbed them on signage as “Dawg Bites” and cleverly did a centerpiece of mints because those come in handy on game day. Her “Goat Cheese & Gridiron” are crostini with goat cheese and raspberries and blackberries on top for a refreshing snack. “Pig Skins & Pennants” are store-bought pretzel rolls with cherry tomato and mozzarella balls on skewers.

RECIPE: Red Clay Bloody Margarita

Ingredients | 8 oz. Bloody Mary mix | 4 oz. tequila | 2 oz. triple sec | 1/4 tsp. Red Clay Carolina Hot Sauce | 4 lime wedges | 1 cup of ice | Red Clay Spicy Bloody Mary Salt | Habanero, jalapeño and celery for garnish

Directions | Rim glass with lime and twist in Red Clay Spicy Bloody Mary Salt | Combine tomato juice, tequila, triple sec, hot sauce and juice of lime in a cocktail shaker | Fill cocktail shaker with ice | Shake vigorously and strain into a glass | Garnish and serve.

Vance Leavy


PRE-GAME: Watching “ESPN College Game Day” while getting ahead on the next issue of Bulldawg Illustrated. Then off to the game where we take over 50 photos of Georgia fans doing what they love most.

KICK-OFF: At the beginning of last season, I bought a neat red and black band for a funky watch and wore it for every game. The rest is history … 2021 National Champions.

SIP: Peach Bellini for early kickoffs. Margarita for midday kicks and Crown and Coke for primetime on the gridiron.

Buff Leavy


PRE-GAME: My son and I used to get up and watch ESPN’s College Game Day in our den to start our Saturday’s and would watch the rest of the big games from start to finish including Georgia. Now that he is 16 he has a lot of friends over to watch the games. I am lucky to hang out in our old spot.

Up until he was about 14 we would run passing routes in the den during commercials. He would come around the back of the couch and I would time my throw so he would have to dive for the football by the time he got to it. From noon until the late game I don’t think I got a break during commercials from the time he was old enough to watch football. Passing routes on every commercial. It was a lot of fun!! Recently – I joked with his friends we were going to do some passing routes during commercials. I think they probably would be up for it if I really tried it.

EAT: I like to pick up from The Porch a lot of the times before the game. If we are feeling it, I will make some guacamole. Along with fresh and just ripe avocados (which I tend to find the best are at the Walmart Neighborhood Grocery in Brunswick), I add just a small amount of diced red onions, tomatoes, squeezed lime and fresh garlic and cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

KICK-OFF: Best ritual I can think of goes back to watching games with my family in a red and black bulldog room … outfitted with red and black shag carpet, Georgia wallpaper and a red and black bar. It was quite the shrine to the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s probably why my brother and sister and I all really ever knew of just one college we were going to attend. When Georgia needed something big to happen if they were down or it was late in the fourth my dad would call on all of us and would rub our heads for the football gods to show up. Many, many times they would with a fumble, turnover or like a last minute score to give the Dawgs the advantage they needed. My sister and I watch the games a lot of times these days and the old head rubbing trick still works, as we found out during last year’s National Championship game. It was successful for Georgia’s pick 6 with about one minute to play … that pretty much put the game and National Championship in our hands!

SIP: A good cold easy-drinking beer.

Mary Starr


PRE-GAME: MU kelly green and white attire every game day.

KICK-OFF: Singing the Marshall University Fight Song, loudly and off-key, just before game time.



We are the sons of Marshall

Sons of the great John Marshall

Year after year we go to Marshall U.

Cheering for our team and gaining

knowledge, too

Proudly we wear our colors

Love and loyalty we share

Sure from far and near

You’ll always hear

The wearing of the green

For it’s the Green and White of

Marshall U.

EAT: Don’t get me wrong, I love the Georgia Bulldogs and consider them my adopted home team, but that doesn’t mean I left all my traditions behind. I have met few hors d’oeuvres I don’t like and joke frequently that charcuterie is my favorite food group. But, even after all these years in Georgia, I remain at West Virginian at heart, my game-day entrée of choice is the West Virginia hot dog. A true West Virginia hot dog is topped with hot dog sauce (aka, chili without beans), cole slaw, yellow mustard and onions. Serve with steamed buns, Kosher dogs (Nathan’s are my go-to) and all your favorite party foods.

RECIPE: West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce

Ingredients | 1lb. ground chuck | 2-3 C. water | 1 tsp. chili powder | 1 tsp. paprika | 1 tsp. cumin | 2 tsp. Kosher salt | 1 tsp. black pepper | 1 Tbsp. dried minced onions | 1 Tbsp. garlic powder | Pinch of red pepper flakes | 1 C. ketchup | ¼ C. light brown sugar | ¼ C. Worcestershire sauce

Directions | Place meat into Dutch oven or large sauce pan and cover with water | Bring to a boil, breaking up the meat with a spatula | When the meat and water come to a rolling boil, lower to a simmer and add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, minced onions, garlic powder and red pepper flakes | Stir everything together and simmer uncovered for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. | In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, and pour into the pan with the meat and spice mixture | Stir, then simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes | Enjoy!

Jenn Agnew


EAT: My favorite game-day dish is something I have not mastered myself, but I love to eat it – Texas Caviar.


Salad Ingredients | 3 plum tomatoes, cored and diced | ¾ C. red onion, finely diced | 1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed | 1-15 oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed | 8 oz. frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained | 1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and finely diced | 1 jalapeño seeded and finely diced | ½ C. chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, if desired | 1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish (optional) | Tortilla chips for serving

Directions | Make the dressing | In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper to combine | Add the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, black-eyed peas, corn, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro | Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste | Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving | To serve, toss well and season to taste | Sprinkle with scallions and serve with tortilla chips.

TRADITION: I do not have a current game-day tradition, but when I was a student I loved the tradition of sororities and fraternities dressing up for the games. So fun.

SIP: My favorite game-day beverage is a Bloody Mary with the trimmings.

Kasey Rowell


EAT: I make a dip that’s always family-requested. It doesn’t really have a name, but it’s delicious.

RECIPE: Kasey’s Dip

Ingredients | 1 can Rotel tomatoes | 1 pkg. of Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage | 2 8 oz. pkgs. of cream cheese

Directions | Brown meat then dump everything into a crockpot. | Keep the heat on low and stir occasionally so the cream cheese doesn’t burn and coats the meat. | Serve with tortilla chips.

SIP: Football wouldn’t be complete without some Bud Light and my favorite would be strawberry mojitos.

TRADITION: Our house is “The Party House” for the whole family. Every weekend like clockwork – everyone comes over and brings a side dish and/or snacks. The guys grill and play corn hole while the kids ride four-wheelers and side-by-sides. It’s a complete muddy mess, but I love it!

Terry Wilson


EAT: We are grilling at Jason and Amy’s ... the classic Elote, veggies, and freshly made burgers (usually on sale!) from Teeter Butcher’s Market.

SIP: Any seltzer by Untitled Art at Tipsy’s, or a pack of the Michelob Organic Essential Collection. Mas Agave seltzers from Founder’s are THE best, but they are now only available in Michigan and not returning phone calls lol. Nightcap tequila old fashioneds with 1½ oz. of Hussong’s Repisado and ½ oz. Mezcal with extra bitters and an orange peel.

TRADITION: Dawn Patrol session followed by game-day Teeter trip. I’m a litle superstitous and def wearing one of my older good luck shirts that I designed for various UGA teams + programs in Athens.

Donte Nunnally


EAT: My favorite to-go food is Calypso Nachos from Indigo Coastal Shanty, and to SIP, a Long Island iced tea.

RECIPE: Turtle Brownies

Ingredients | 1 C. unsalted butter | 3 (4-oz.) bars semisweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli, chopped | 4 large eggs | ¾ C. granulated sugar | ¾ C. firmly packed light brown sugar | 2 Tbsp. instant espresso coffee | 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract | 1-½ C. all-purpose flour | ½ tsp. Kosher salt | Caramel Sauce (recipe online) | 2-¾ C. pecan halves, divided | C. semisweet chocolate morsels, divided

Directions | Preheat oven to 350° | Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with baking spray with flour. Set aside | In a medium glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate | Remove from heat, and let cool for approximately 10 minutes | Add eggs, sugars, espresso, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add flour and salt, stirring until combined. Pour half of batter into prepared pan | Reserve remaining batter | Smooth batter in pan, using an offset spatula | Bake until set, approximately 10 minutes. Pour caramel sauce over cooked brownie layer | Top with 1½ C. pecan halves and 1 C. chocolate morsels | Spoon remaining batter over morsels; smooth using an offset spatula | Top batter with remaining 1¼ C. pecan halves and 1 C. chocolate morsels | Bake until brownie is set, approximately 20 minutes. Let brownie cool completely before slicing into squares.

Lauren McDonald


EAT: Full credit for this dish goes to my mom, who has perfected taco soup for tailgates and game day parties. For me, this dish tastes like fall and football. I highly recommend it.

RECIPE: Taco Soup

Ingredients | 2 lbs. ground beef | 1 onion, chopped | 1-32 oz. can chopped tomatoes | 4 cans RoTel tomatoes with green chilies | 1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained | 1-15 oz. can Shoe-peg corn, reserve liquid | 1 pkg. taco seasoning | 1 pkg. Original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix

Directions | Brown ground beef and onions | Drain | Add tomatoes, Ro-Tel tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans, corn with liquid, taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix | Simmer for 2 hours | Serve with chips, cheese and sour cream.

SIP: Athens is home to several wonderful craft breweries, and my favorite is Creature Comforts. No matter what city I’m watching the game from these days, I like to pay homage to the Classic City with a Creature Comforts beer.

Derrick Davis


PRE-GAME: I wear socks with the Florida State Seminole’s logo.

KICK-OFF: I have to watch my team’s games alone.

EAT: Delicious and classic Pepperoni pizza from Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria.

SIP: Silver Bluff Mexican Lager is solid but I enjoy a good cocktail on the weekend.

Jan Leavy Bone


PRE-GAME: I’ll have to admit I didn’t really have a game-day ritual until the Dawgs won the National Championship last year. I wore this old Sugar Bowl T-shirt that says “You can’t spell sugar without UGA!” So since they won, I’m now considering it my lucky shirt and plan to wear it every game day!

KICK-OFF: Traditionally on game day, I go to my brother’s house or my neighbor’s house. But by far, my favorite place to watch the Dawgs is Brogen’s South! Every time UGA scores, they play Gary Glitter’s song, “Rock & Roll Part 2”! It is wildly fun to beat on the table and scream, “G-E-O-R-G-I-A!” The energy is incredible!

EAT: I don’t really have a favorite game day dish. Appetizers are my favorite food, especially ones made by other people, because I do not cook. Yummy nibbles are the way to go while watching the Dawgs play, and this cheese ball is perfect for game-watching!

RECIPE: Yummy Cheese Ball

Ingredients | 2-8 oz. bars of cream cheese | 1 Tbsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt | 2 C. finely chopped pecans | 1-20oz. can Dole crushed pineapple in juice, thoroughly drained | 3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion | 1/4 C. finely chopped green bell pepper | Triscuits, Wheat Thins, or your favorite crackers.

Directions | Soften the cream cheese at room temperature and put in a mixing bowl | Drain the pineapple. I think the best way is to put it in a lot of paper towels and keep squeezing until thoroughly drained | Mix the cream cheese with the pineapple, seasoning salt, onion, bell pepper, and only 1 C. of pecans. Save the other cup to roll the cheese ball in for later | Cover the mixing bowl with aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight or for several hours | Form the cheese ball mixture into a ball | Put the remaining cup of pecans in a bowl, and roll the cheese ball in them until it is thoroughly covered. | Serve with your favorite crackers.

SIP: No game day would be complete without my dear, old, reliable friend, Char – as in Chardonnay. She calms my nerves when the game is a nail-biter and really just makes any experience better and more fun!

These establishments offer friendly service, plenty of televisions and great camaraderie with other football fans.

Brogen’s North | Frederica North | SSI • Brogen’s South | Pier Village | SSI • Catch 228 | Redfern Village | SSI

Certified Burgers + Beverage | Shops at Sea Island | SSI

Gnat’s Landing | Redfern Village | SSI • Mellow Mushroom | Pier Village | SSI • Sago at Sea Palms | SSI

TreeBar at Bennie’s Red Barn | SSI | Nighttime games only • V Pizza | Shops at Sea Island | SSI | Sunday • Tortuga Jack’s | JI • Tribuzio’s Grille | JI • Wee Pub Beach | JI • Moondoggy’s Pizza & Pub | BWK • Silver Bluff Brewing Co. | Downtown BWK • Tipsy McSway’s | Downtown BWK