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The Tailgate Tour : How a Tasty Idea Became Reality

The Ultimate College Football Experience

Trying to stay calm because, it’s FINALLY college football season! This football season will be one that I will never forget…

But first, let’s rewind and flashback to this summer. When summer rolls around while everyone else is planning vacations and dreaming of the beach or lake, I start planning my fall college football season- what games I am going to, what new tailgating recipes I want to try, how Tennessee will finally win the championship this season, etc. I am a simple man… I am a die-hard Tennessee fan and I love food (and I love my wife, of course). This summer, when I was in the final stages of preparing to launch my new Crove Food Co. Seasonings & Rubs, after months of testing recipes, and working with a co-packer and graphic designer, I was thinking about how I was going to launch my rubs, and then a lightbulb went off… I had a brilliant idea! I could go on a Tailgate Tour to College Football games in the Southeast where I would cook for fans and handout samples of foods cooked using my rubs, all while getting amazing content with my media crew. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my wife, because this is my best idea yet.

My wife is always so supportive and is used to my big ideas, she loves college football, she is excited about the rubs, I know this will go great and I can’t wait to tell her… I get home to tell my wife and she is immediately excited, but she quickly gives me a reality check and reminds me that College Football season starts in 6 WEEKS. She also asks…How are we realistically going to make this happen? How much is it going to cost? How do we get a BBQ trailer? Who do we take with us? And the most important question, do we have enough time?

One amazing thing about my wife is that she balances me out. I am a dreamer and come up with crazy ideas and goals all the time, so this is not new to her. She is a realist and a problem solver. Together, she helps me stay focused on the goal and makes sure the to-do lists get checked off to reach the finish line. We just finished renovating our brand new 9,000 sq. foot studio for our media company, Crove Media, and finally got moved in, so starting another huge project seems a little crazy, BUT…

After much discussion (in just a few short days because we are on a time crunch) we both decided that there is no better time than NOW to go on a Tailgate Tour. In my world, we GO BIG OR GO HOME! The planning of the Crove Food Co. Tailgate Tour had officially commenced.

I tell my team at Crove Media, and they are all equally excited. I started a countdown on the white board in my office, so that I could see how much time I had left every day and stay focused. My to-do list is long. I need to design a logo, get a BBQ trailer, get the BBQ trailer wrapped, order the rubs, lock in sponsors, make a game schedule, design merch, plan out the content I want to get, and so much more all while running the daily operations of my media business and client projects. The first thing I do is set my goals and expectations. Then, I spoke to potential sponsors and scheduled meetings with them to tell them my plan and give them the opportunity to come on board.

This would not be possible without my amazing sponsors. I am so thankful to my title sponsor, GrillGrate. I have done work with GrillGrate showcasing their products on my food channel, so we already had a great working relationship, and I 100% stand behind their products. I use my GrillGrates multiple times a week. They offer custom fitting GrillGrates that interlock and lay on top of your existing grates with your specific brand of grill, which perform as flame shields prompting more direct grilling at higher temperatures, and the perfect grill marks on your food. You can also use rectangular GrillGrates and center them on your grates. Grill-Masters rave about minimal flareups and the way GrillGrates protect from excessive charring, while evening out hot and cold spots for more evenly cooked food. Juices sizzle in the valleys for added flavor and moisture. The hard anodized aluminum surface seasons and delivers outstanding non-stick properties, so you’ll never burn a steak again! GrillGrate makes the online shopping experience for customers so easy. Visit grillgrate.com and choose your brand of grill to shop their products!

I then got my friends at Allegro Marinade, Cowboy Charcoal, ORCA Coolers, and Tennessee River Jam to come on board as side sponsors.

Allegro Marinade, “The Marinate Everything Marinades”, are my favorite marinades to cook with and I am so excited to be partnering with them, so that you can try their marinades on the tour. Whether it’s off the grill, out of the oven, or over the campfire, your taste buds are in for a treat with Allegro marinades and sauces. Find the perfect marinade for every occasion and every meal. Their flavors like Original, Tennessee Whiskey, Raspberry Chipotle, Honey Garlic, Hot n’ Spicy, just to name a few, are out of this world! They are made and bottled right in my hometown. Visit allegromarinade.com to look up recipes, shop, find stores near you that carry their product, and more!

Cowboy Charcoal offers charcoal, wood chips, wood chunks, pellets, BBQ sauce, pit-style cookin’ wood, and I am obsessed with their products. I am so excited to have their products to showcase on tour. I have had amazing results every time I have used their natural lump charcoal and the smoky flavor from the coals make me feel like a cowboy in the wild, wild west. Cook like a cowboy and shop their line of products at cowboycharcoal.com.

You can’t tailgate without a cooler, so I am thrilled to have the perfect partner, ORCA Coolers. ORCA Coolers are made in the USA and offer hard side coolers, soft side coolers, drinkware, accessories, and more. Their coolers are durable, tough, and hold ice and keep my food and beer “refrigerator cold” for hours, which make them perfect to take on the Tailgate Tour. I am excited to be able to shop for my groceries and stick them in my ORCA coolers, and not worry about how far I will need to travel to these games. They even have a College Football line of products. Shop their products at orcacoolers.com.

Tennessee River Jam is my favorite summer music festival and it happens right in my hometown of Paris, TN. Afterall, in the summer there is no college football, but there is live music and good food to keep me occupied while I countdown the days to college football season. Tennessee River Jam is 4 days of live music in June, at over 10 locations with more than 30 artists. This past summer we saw artists like Marshall Tucker Band and Big and Rich with Cowboy Troy, and we had an epic time! We are so excited to promote this event while we are on tour! Check them out at tnriverjam.com and follow along on their social media sites. Save the date for June 1-4, 2023! We can’t wait to hear who the artists will be at next year’s Tennessee River Jam!

Whew, the sponsors were checked off of my list, but there were still so many things to do. I picked up my new BBQ trailer in Louisiana and brought it home for my friend Zeb Young at Abbott’s Print Shop to design and custom wrap. I nailed down the schedule (view here), my rubs arrived and I tested them out in a BBQ Competition with my friends and took home 1st place in Pork using the Crove Pork Rub. Then, I brainstormed with my team about what kinds of games that we could play, foods I could hand out, content we could make, etc. and before I knew it the board in my office read “Tailgate Tour: 7 DAYS”… I had one week left.

I posted a “Tailgate Tour” announcement video on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook and there was no turning back! As I type this, we have completed out first weekend of the Tailgate Tour. We traveled to Knoxville, TN for Tennessee vs. Ball State game. Then we loaded up and traveled to Tuscaloosa, AL for Alabama vs. Utah St. And to wrap up the Labor Day weekend, we packed up one more time to head to New Orleans, LA for LSU vs. Florida St. at the Superdome. The weekend could not have gone better. We learned a lot, met so many of you, handed out a ton of free food, played games, gave out prizes, and got some epic content to share with you over the next couple weeks. Make sure you are following along with Crove Food Co. on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel, so you don’t miss it! We hope to see you along the tour. Catch us at one of our games (see schedule below) and shop our new Crove Food Co. Rubs and Seasonings when they launch online!

I will wrap this up with a little bit of advice. If you have a dream, chase it. That sounds so cliché’, but there is nothing better than getting to do what I love and share it with all of you. You never know where your lightbulb idea will turn into. Thank you for your support and for helping me chase my dreams!

-Sam, Crove Food Co.

 

 

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