The fans, food and friendship surrounding N.C. State Football

by Catherine Currin | photography by Geoff Wood

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Carter-Finley Stadium opened in 1966, and the parking lot has been filled with fans ever since, all geared up to cheer on the Wolfpack. N.C. State University has 270,000 living alumni—more than 81,000 in the Triangle alone—and plenty of spirit abounds each fall in Carter-Finley’s 57,000 seats. While football, the game, reigns supreme, tailgating for the game has morphed into a sport of its own. From the motor home lot (where families roll in on a Friday and don’t head home until Sunday) to the extensive student area, the parking lot comes alive in red and white on game day. Future alumni start in on the fun at a young age with parking lot games, and old friends and new join forces for a tailgate extraordinaire.

Phil Price, class of 1975 (pictured pg. 111), says he started attending N.C. State football games in 1970. Today, he and his wife Cindy are avid fans and Wolfpack Club members (the university’s student aid association), driving their RV in from Wake Forest to spend weekends off Trinity Road. “We’ve been in the motor home lot since 2004, and I used to tailgate with just my cousin,” says Price. “Back then, we just had a couple of chairs and some sandwiches.” Visit his parking spot this season, and you’ll see how much has changed: It now includes everything from a TV setup to catch the day’s matchups to delicious eats on a state-of-the-art grill. Price, who retired in February, says he looks forward to getting together with folks each week back at his alma mater. “I’m very lucky my wife loves sports like I do,” he laughs.

The group, who are now great friends, have quite the spread each week. Price says his favorite thing to cook is stuffed jalapeño peppers, and the grilling is all kinds of gourmet: ribeyes, whole chickens and barbecue, plus oysters and shrimp. “We started bringing grills, then teamed up with two other families that parked near us. We haven’t missed a home game since we’ve had the RV.” For Price, tailgating is more than food and fun, and even more than just football. “It’s just about being together, enjoying each other. It’s about fellowship.”