They represent three different generations, but Elizabeth T. Germany, Anita Germany Webster and Rosalyn “Rosie” Germany Mayes agree—Mississippi State tailgating means food, football and, most importantly, family.
“All of my grandkids started tailgating as babies,” said Rosie, the matriarch and namesake of Rosie’s Rowdies—a football-season staple for nearly three decades.
“I don’t know if it was my mom or me that came up with the name,” Rosie’s daughter Anita explained. “Kind of joking, I said we needed a sign. My sister-in-law Andrea actually went and had one made for us, so after that, we were official.”
Although she’s not a graduate, Rosie has always been a Bulldog fan. And the feeling only grew when the Decatur native met her late husband Rudolph Mayes, a 1954 MSU graduate.
“I had already been coming to tailgate for football and after we got married, that just intensified it,” Rosie said with a smile.
She said that in the early days, the family set up at the railroad tracks behind Davis Wade Stadium, a spot that is now the Junction, a grassy area that serves as Mississippi State’s tailgating hub.
“That’s where the parking was, and we actually pulled up underneath an oak tree that was there and tailgated out of the back of the truck,” Rosie recalled.
“True tailgating,” joked her granddaughter Elizabeth.
A Brandon native, Elizabeth completed a bachelor’s degree in economics at Mississippi State in May.
“One of the coolest things is being able to say that I grew up here,” Elizabeth said.
“Tailgating wasn’t just part of the college experience for me; it’s been a lifetime thing. I remember playing football, playing around in the dirt and making all kinds of friends.”
Anita said the family’s tailgate was low key in the beginning.
“We could literally pull up on the south side of what is now the Lloyd-Ricks-Watson Building, park an hour or two before game time and tailgate,” explained the 1985 Mississippi State computer science graduate. “We went from just the tailgate of the truck to a pole tent, where you had to put the poles together, put the canopy on top and stake it down.”
She added, “When they came out with the pop-up tents, we got one. Then we progressed into two, then three and then four.”
Having room to welcome guests is an important part of the Rowdies’ parties. Rosie explained that the inviting atmosphere makes it easy to get to know families from other tents and chat with MSU players who often have visited.
“It was really neat,” Rosie said. “We really got to know a lot of the players, like (Anthony) Boobie Dixon and Derek Sherrod. They would always come by to see us.”
These days, Rosie’s Rowdies can be found just outside of the Junction, near the J. Charles Lee Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building, which gives them more room for their ever-expanding group now that the Junction has become more popular.
“Tailgating really just exploded when Dan (Mullen) came, which was good,” Rosie said. “It used to be mostly older family groups, so we’re glad that more and more students want to tailgate in the Junction.”
Since the move, self-proclaimed “lead rowdie” Anita, who lives in Madison, Alabama, has taken on the responsibility of organizing the family tailgate.
“My mom used to do the cooking and set-up. Then, it got to the point where we all would do it,” Anita explained. “Now, family and friends still bring plenty of food and drinks to share, but I’ve kind of taken on the planning part.”
For Anita, planning often means creating the menu for each home game weeks in advance. From tailgate-wide favorites like Coca-Cola ham and baked beans to her youngest daughter Laura’s iced dog-bone cookies, these plans ensure there are lots of tasty options for all to enjoy.
“I complicated our tailgate because I always have to do better and do more each week,” she joked. “I do most of the cooking Thursday night or before I leave on Friday morning. We always have too much food, but I’ve set expectations in that there’s always going to be plenty to share.”
Anita said she likes to go out early in the morning to set up tents and tables, put up the family’s tailgate banner, hang Mississippi State flags and string lights.
“I’ll get the TV and generator going, and I like to hang a couple of box fans to keep people cool,” she said.
Coordinating the family’s tailgate takes a lot of work, but it’s something Anita truly enjoys. She affectionately refers to Mississippi State as her “happy place” and hopes to move to Starkville after retirement.
“I try to make every tailgate special because that may be the one game somebody gets to attend,” she said. “It’s fun that we get to come tailgate every week. Not everybody can, so it’s definitely a luxury.”
Anita says that all are welcome at the Rosie’s Rowdies tailgate—whether they’re cheering for the Bulldogs or the visiting team.
“We want our tailgate to be an enjoyable, welcoming place for everybody,” she said. “Whether they show up before, during or after game, we want people to be happy, have fun and enjoy each others’ company.”