The University of Georgia and the University of Florida will once again get together to play a football game during what is referred to as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
The schools don’t have a lot of love for one another, but that doesn’t prevent their annual meeting from being the premiere tailgating event of the college football season in Jacksonville, FL. Although this is an intense rivalry, most of the Cocktail Party revelry is done in a peaceful manner.
This neutral-site game for the SEC foes was first held in 1915 and has been in Jacksonville every year since 1933, except for 1994-95 when EverBank Field was being built. Despite Georgia fans having to travel 269 more miles to the game than Florida does, there are just as many fans in red and black woofing like “Dawgs” as there are blue-and-green-clad folks doing the “Gator Chomp” with their arms.
Estimates as high as 200,000 fans converge around the stadium, with the majority of these people not actually attending the game inside the 80,000-seat stadium. Some of these fans show up a week early and park their RVs in an area simply referred to as “RV City.”
This is where the Cocktail Party begins. RV City is a gigantic area strictly for RV use that is estimated to be longer than 10 square blocks. Since these people have a week to kill, they spend their time going all-out with decorating their vehicles with school colors and memorabilia before eating and drinking virtually non-stop for seven days. RV City becomes its own community where Gators and Bulldogs welcome each other into their mobile homes for a steak or salmon dinner while drinking massive amounts of beer and liquor.
For places to go after the game, The Landing is where most of the students converge once the final buzzer sounds. This waterfront mall located less than a mile from the stadium is home to a boatload of restaurants and bars.
Located across the St. John’s River from the Landing is the Southbank Riverwalk, a 1.2-mile boardwalk on the river. This will also be mobbed before, during and after the game.
In recent years, the postgame celebration has mostly belonged to Florida, which has won 11 of the past 13 meetings. However, Georgia enters this year’s contest with a five-game winning streak, while Florida has dropped three straight games. The Bulldogs are hoping to hand the Gators their fourth consecutive loss for the first time since 1988.