There’s only one rule on Ole Miss gameday: Though we may not win every game, we’ve never lost a party. There’s no hanging our head if we fall short on the field, guys. We make the most of our treasured fall football Saturdays, win or lose. The Grove is the center of the gameday experience – you just have to see it to believe it! This gorgeous 13 acres of oak trees and meticulously manicured landscaping is a sacred ground on the campus of The University of Mississippi. During the summers and school days, students studying on a bench and local Oxonians (often with their children) enjoying a picnic on the lush green grass.
On Saturdays, the Grove turns into a sea of red and blue tents, tables of delicious food, and thousands of loyal Rebel fans (as well as fans of the opposing team, I assume.) We’ve put our heads together and have a few tips for you in regards to “Groving” (Tidbit: this is the term used at Ole Miss in lieu of “Tailgating.”)
Unspoken rules of the Grove
People spend months (and insane amounts of money) planning for “Grove Season” – known to the rest of the country as “Football Season”. Groups of 4- 40, and sometimes more, gather their ideas/recipes/Grove gear (tents/tables/chairs)/decor (tablecloths to chandeliers – yes, I said chandeliers) to put together some of the most remarkable ‘tailgating’ situations you have ever seen. Therefore, it’s only right that you respect the efforts of these folks by adhering to these four simple rules:
You are truly welcome at any tent. Seems awkward to read that, but Mississippi isn’t known as the hospitality state for nothing. There is nothing more fun than welcoming a new person to the Grove and showing you the ropes.
Don’t come empty handed: You might not officially "belong" to a tent group, but that doesn’t mean you show up with only your purse and fan. These tents cost hundreds to thousands of dollars each week and it's nice to show your gratitude. Do pack your own small cooler with at least a couple of beverages of your choice, if not a small container of dip or a batch of cookies to offer whatever tent you end up spending the most time visiting. (NOTE: you can’t take coolers into the stadium, so either plan to return it to your car before the game, or ask tent host if it’s okay to store under a table at their tent. PS to the note: Grove rules are here, but most notables University Police do have the right to dump coolers, left unattended. While they don’t get every cooler, it has been known to regularly happen.)
Put it in a cup! No matter what the law says. as odd as it is that Ole Miss is “damp” for alcohol. Not wet, not dry: wine/beer are acceptable but beer is no-go. Thank William Faulkner for the mixed up laws in Oxford, really. But most importantly, it is only acceptable to partake in alcoholic beverages in a cup (preferable a red solo cup). The quickest way to get your drink poured out is if it's not in a cup.
Speaking of drinks, the signature drink of the Grove is a Bourbon and Coke/Sprite, NOT a “Hotty Toddy” – who drinks those anyways?
Be a good sport! We Rebels are always going to enjoy the time in the Grove, especially when the Luke era brings home a W. But we are always gracious hosts to all visiting teams and their fans – so play nice. Please.
Dress up in your Sunday best – more to come on this topic in the next installment of “The Skinny on Gameday!”
It depends on the time of the game, but when to show up in the Grove/how long to stay/when to call it quits – this all varies with kickoff times. The three most common game times are 11am, 2:30pm and 6pm. Here's the usual "Grove schedule" for each of these game times (this is not an official schedule, it’s just a recommendation based off our almost 20 years’ experience attending the Grove and Ole Miss Football games):
Most people arrive at the Grove around 8/8:30am, head to the stadium around 10:15/1030am, then back to the Grove after the game (around 3pm) for a couple of hours. Usual food includes light breakfast options and chicken tenders/dips for post-game.
Most people arrive at the grove around 10:30/11am, head to the stadium around 1:30/2pm. The game ends around 6:30pm so some people go back to the Grove for a bit, but some go to the Square or out to eat.
Some people start early - like lunchtime - in the Grove. Most people arrive at the Grove around 2pm, head to the stadium around 5/5:30, then the game lasts until 10pm. People are encouraged not to go back to the Grove after late games, because the grounds crew will be there cleaning up already. By 8am on Sunday morning, you won't see ANY evidence of a day-long party in the Grove just hours before - it will be pristine!
The Parking Situation
Traffic patterns on campus change during gamedays. Important to know: when crowd control gets high, they will shut down Grove Loop for all vehicle traffic for the safety of Grovers. All on campus parking is available by permit only. Only those with a football parking pass in one of the designated lots, or an on-campus resident, with an existing resident parking permit are allowed to park on campus on gamedays.
Off campus options include:
Parking on or near the Square (NOT in a tow zone) and make the short trek down University Avenue to the Grove. Just remember to feed the meter if you aren’t in a free parking zone! During gamedays, time limits are enforced on the Square, so that Grovers aren’t parking in spots all day long, prohibiting steady business in Square shops.
There are several churches between campus and the Square that offer paid parking to benefit youth groups and mission trips, if you want to go that route. $20-40 is the going rate for those spots.
Additionally, the University and the City teamed up to offer shuttles to campus, from three areas of town. Service begins at least five hours prior to kickoff and ends two hours following the conclusion of the game. The City shuttle will drop off and pick up on campus on Gertrude Ford Blvd from the following parking lots:
The Oxford High School parking lot located on Sisk Avenue by the Oxford Conference Center and Malco Movie Theater.
FNC Park, located down Old Sardis Road
The cost to park at the above city parking lots is:
1-7 people in vehicle: $20
8+ people in vehicle: $40
Additionally, The University of Mississippi will also operate a gameday shuttle service from the Jackson Avenue Center. There is no charge to park or ride the shuttle. But space is very limited and fills up fast. Service will begin at least 5 hours prior to game time and end 2 hours after the game ends. Shuttles drop off at the Paris-Yates Chapel.
Need more info? Follow the shuttles here.
My personal favorite is not to drive at all. Either call ahead and reserve a cab pickup for Saturday morning, or get an Uber. Though you might pay surging rate, you don’t have to worry about keeping up with your car or paying to park! Remember though, cabs are at a minimum post game, so be sure to make those reservations for after the game too!