Penn State alumnus Dan Levy always had a passion for tailgating.
It started with his time in Happy Valley, spending each Saturday outside of Beaver Stadium with fellow students, and later, with alumni. It wasn’t until he began a career in the college marketing industry that Levy realized that he could take tailgating to the next level.
“I worked with Campus DJ, a national student DJ competition, and started to really love the idea of creating a national competition for students and alumni,” Levy said. “That, mixed with my passion for tailgating, kind of brought about the concept of ‘Tailgate of the Year.’”
The competition started last year at Penn State, where Levy had regular tailgates at Beaver Stadium send in Instagram videos showing off their food and pre-game activities. This eventually led to six finalists after a vote, with each tailgate facing off in a competition that featured food, cornhole, and fan voting.
The eventual winner received $1,000 for the charity of its choice along with a tailgating package including a grill. This year, the competition is putting more prize money on the table but axing the package.
“We saw that the fans really rallied behind their charity much more than the tailgating package,” Levy said. “I know that Penn State is generally extremely charitable with THON and everything, and I saw that that’s what motivated them the most.”
This year, Tailgate of the Year will be heading to Ohio State, Michigan, and West Virginia as well. Each campus will have a competition similar to the one held last year, leading to a Campus Champion title and a $500 donation. There will then be a faceoff between the four schools with $2,000 for the winning tailgate.
“It’s a really cool opportunity for people to see how those in other regions and other schools tailgate,” Levy said. “There are so many traditions and its a cool and unique way for people to learn about those through our competition.”
Levy has big dreams for the future of the competition. He said they are planning to double in size each year until they reach a national level, expanding southward next year with four more schools, westward in 2016 with 16 total schools, and eventually 32.
If you want to enter, film your tailgate and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #psutoty2014. For more details and instructions on entering, check out the competition’s website and watch the 2014 promo video below: