The parking lot next to Sprague Field was packed, but not with cars. Montclair State students gathered on Saturday to join in on the Recreation Center’s first ever pre-game breakfast tailgate before the football team’s home opener against Rowan University. There was free food, games, music and, in classic New Jersey style, a Taylor Ham vs. pork roll debate.
“This was a morning game – we needed breakfast,” Jessica Fetherston, a Senior and Campus Recreation’s Event Director, said. “What’s the best way to do breakfast? Wraps. And then we’re like, a Taylor Ham or pork roll debate would be the best thing to make a prize about.”
The tailgate was held from 10 a.m. until noon, and students could swipe their student ID card and receive a free raffle ticket. Then, tailgate-goers placed their raffle ticket in either the “Taylor Ham” or “pork roll” box to decide New Jersey’s most controversial debate. The raffle winner would come from the box that had the most tickets, and the raffle prizes included a cooler, blanket and stadium chair for the bleachers.
Fetherston explained the idea to put on a tailgate breakfast before the football team’s home opener was developed before the season started.
“This has been in the works since last semester,” Fetherston said. “We really want to promote [athletics] more and help them get more attendance, which we think is a little lacking at Montclair.”
DJ Ridd was in control behind the turntables and played everything from The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” to the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” In addition to the free Taylor Ham (or pork roll, if that’s what you prefer to call it), there was also a variety of bagels and orange juice.
“That’s mostly why I come to events – for the free food,” Amanda Knight, a sophomore, said.
Vinnie Freda, a senior theater studies major, added to Knight’s comments, “I love pork rolls, so it’s a really good thing that they’re doing this. I was really excited about that.”
Freda and Knight agreed that events like the pre-game tailgate should drive out more students to the games. After the tailgate was over, the Red Hawks took the football field and earned a 21-14 victory over Rowan University. Fetherston said Taylor Ham and pork roll each received 53 votes so, for now, that debate is a bit less settled.