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Tailgating with the pros: a day at the McBrides' UGA pregame

Story highlights

* “Tailgating just gets in your dadgum veins,” McBride said, “or not necessarily tailgating, but the Georgia Bulldogs, just the love for the collegiate football program and supporting them.”

* The inside of the trailer is complete with several TVs, a bedroom and a kitchen and living room area that would rival many high-end apartments. The trailer also fits a golf cart and Smart Car in the back. Outside, the corner lot sports a Georgia “G” in the hedges, a small fence around the trailer and all the food and tents necessary for tailgating.

About this article

This article was originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of The Life-400 North, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.

Former college football coach Marino Casem once said that in the South, college football is a religion, and every Saturday is a holy day.

If that’s the case, consider Donnie McBride a zealot.

It’s an idyllic fall day, prefect for football, on Oct. 1 as the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and it’s multitude of fans prepare for the upcoming tilt with rivals the University of Tennessee Volunteers, a game that Tennessee will infamously win on a last second Hail Mary to end the game.

But before all the analysis and Monday morning quarterbacking, before even the game, McBride is joined by family at their tailgate spot at Bulldog Park, an upscale RV community that transforms from a mostly empty lot the majority of the year to gameday central six or seven weekends in the fall.

“Tailgating just gets in your dadgum veins,” McBride said, “or not necessarily tailgating, but the Georgia Bulldogs, just the love for the collegiate football program and supporting them.”

A quick look around McBride’s spot shows that Georgia football and tailgating go hand in hand.

His trailer is not only the same colors as the football team, but decked both inside and out with red “G’s” and bulldogs.

The inside of the trailer is complete with several TVs, a bedroom and a kitchen and living room area that would rival many high-end apartments. The trailer also fits a golf cart and Smart Car in the back.

Outside, the corner lot sports a Georgia “G” in the hedges, a small fence around the trailer and all the food and tents necessary for tailgating.

“The trailer, I set it up the way I set it up for the year,” McBride said. “We take our tent and stuff down and put it in the trailer when we leave, then when we come back we put it out.”

Others have taken notice of McBride’s work, as he and his wife, Edna, won top honors at the first ever National Collegiate Tailgating Championship in 2012.

“We beat out a bunch of people in here and we beat all of the participating collegiate tailgating,” he said. The fandom doesn’t stop when
McBride, a season-ticket holder, is away from the park. His Gainesville business is named “Bulldawg Collision,” each time he receives a phone call the team’s fight song plays and he has three bulldogs of his own: Maddie, Boss and Glory Glory.

He says the obsession began after his daughter, Autumn, who is now pursuing her second degree from the school, began college. While he was a fan before, he (in his own words) “went crazy.”

“I’ve been tailgating probably since Autumn started UGA,” he said. “We’ve been here probably nine years, because we used to dry-camp … from Friday night to Sunday afternoon we would spend a whole afternoon in the RV, like we do now.”

McBride said his family moved to the state about 15 years ago after living in both Carolinas, but he is quick to point out that while he and his wife are South Carolina natives, they have never been Gamecocks or fair-weather fans.

“We’re Dawg fans and we’re going to be Dawg fans until we’re not breathing anymore.”

He’s even living in the park while looking for a new home in the area after recently closing on his Forsyth County home.

Driving around the park, McBride is stopped constantly by friends trading jokes, talking about the game and even making offers on the red and black Smart Car, before briefly stopping at the massive Big Dawg Barn, a two-story structure filled with food, fans and football memorabilia.

“That is a tailgating facility for three lots and it’s pretty immaculate,” he said. “Everyone is welcome at every other site.”

In the end, win, lose or last-minute Hail Mary, McBride knows what keeps him coming back.

“[It’s] just the enjoyment of it,” he said. “The fellowship, the meeting people and we have lots of friends here and we would not have them otherwise, because we would have never met. And that’s what we really enjoy is the comradery.”