Fort Collins, Colorado offers those who travel there many things to do, including college football activities like tailgating or taking in the Old Town atmosphere. Fort Collins is located off Interstate 25 between Denver, Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming, so travel to this city is rather convenient en route to football tailgating and Old Town. This travel article will discuss Old Town Fort Collins and Colorado State Rams football tailgating.
Sports-themed journeys are one of the most popular activities in this nation, especially in the fall when fans of college gridiron play make a pilgrimage to their favorite team’s home or visiting field to support them. But before the game, the ritual of tailgating across this country outside of the nation’s sports cathedrals is an important aspect of the football game experience, as friends travel from near and far to get together to hang out and chow down on some great-tasting food, anticipating that their team is going to come out the victor in a few hours.
Tailgating with the CSU Ram Fans
Unfortunately, for the Colorado State Rams (CSU), hard times have fallen on this once proud Mountain West Conference team coached by Sonny Lubick (whom the Rams’ football field is named for). After many successful years of winning records, conference championships, and bowl appearances, the game I attended via travel had the Rams trying not to go beyond the 371 days without winning a football game, losing twelve games in a row going back to last season. The streak began last year with the team they would play this very game day, the Air Force Falcons, who hails down Interstate 25 in Colorado Springs. The pre-game festivities would turn out to be one of the strangest October days in Fort Collins for us tailgating participants.
Being from Wyoming, I wanted to talk to some of the Colorado State Rams fans to find out how they felt about the struggles of their team. For the most part, they do admire and respect Coach Lubick, but feel that his coaching staff has been more the cause of the team’s bad fortunes than the players, but I didn’t see any real anger or bitterness emanating from them like I’ve heard from other fans whose teams don’t live up to their expectations. As for the team they see as their biggest rivals, well, that honor goes to the state’s largest college, the University of Colorado at Boulder Buffaloes (CU), which is about an hour away via travel by automobile. When CSU and CU slug it out on the gridiron, it’s before very large crowds at INVESCO Field in Denver, mostly the home of the NFL Broncos. The Ram tailgaters remarked in a way that I could tell that they detested CU very much, but the team from my home state, the Wyoming Cowboys (UW), are a close second, as the yearly clashes between CSU and UW are known as “Border Wars”, especially in football and basketball. Air Force was considered the second (too) or third biggest rival by the Colorado State Rams partisans in Fort Collins.
A light and cold drizzle came over the city as we began feasting on some yummy beef brisket, barbeque baked beans, potato salad, and brownies for our tailgating meal. In another tailgating section, I could hear some drum banging and chanting, so I went to the other tent to investigate it as the drizzle was starting to turn into a heavier rain with loud thunder claps and rampant lightning. I found four Native American men who were fans of the hapless Rams banging on a drum and chanting really loud. Apparently, and as I found out later after talking to them, they were performing a victory ceremony for the down-on-their-luck team. Some of the people under the tent began to joke, “We got rain instead!” The chanters/drummers laughed at this. And rain did we get! It’s very rare indeed for this part of the country to get a gully washer like we were in the middle of October. The semi-grassy grounds outside the football stadium were turning into mud quickly, and the temperature was falling fast.
Well into the storm, the fans found out that a power outage in parts of the football stadium due to lightning would delay the 3:30 PM start of the football game, but no one knew for how long. Many fans got back into their automobiles to travel back into town and elsewhere, not coming back. It would be almost an hour’s worth of delay as the rains and lightning finally subsided, and for the CSU Rams, this only put off their inevitable torture of another loss as the temperature grew colder, thanks to the gusty wind that followed the horrible weather.
The Falcons raced to a 28-7 halftime lead. In the second half, the Colorado State Rams played better as the sun set in the midst of a hard core stance of fans from both CSU and Air Force who braved the cold weather only to see the home team go down 45-21. What I really enjoyed about the game besides the action on a really beautiful field was listening to the percussion play of CSU’s band, which happily played on whenever the Rams made a good play or scored, including one play where a CSU defender picked up a fumble and ran 48 yards for a touchdown.
I guess for the CSU fans, they can take solace in the old adage that nothing lasts forever. Some day, a win will appear, and then another. But win or lose, the sports pilgrimages of football tailgating before the games begin will go on and on in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Old Town Fort Collins
A former Fort Collins-raised movie visual artist by the name of Harper Goff (1911-1993) did something that has an effect on travelers the world over, especially families who travel to certain famous venues. His showing of childhood photos of the older part of Fort Collins (now known as Old Town Fort Collins) to Walt Disney would be an integral basis for the Main Street U.S.A. feature layout and feel of the Disney theme parks, for Disney was impressed with the city just by browsing Goff’s pictures! Today, Old Town is full of restaurants, shopping opportunities, and other businesses like the Fort Collins Museum, whose idyllic courtyard contains a number of relocated and old 19th century homes. Old Town has been restored to resemble the look and feel of an era gone by, and is more laid back than the rest of the city, which really bustles with shopping and university traffic.
Fort Collins Museum: 200 Mathews St., Library Park, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524. 970-221-6738.
Fort Collins, Colorado Lodging Travel Tip
I stayed at the Fort Collins Marriott while in town. The beds are quite comfortable and a good-sized work table is provided to access the internet which costs $9.95 per day (noon-noon), but with that you get all the free local and US long distance calls your heart desires! The visiting football teams who travel to Colorado State’s home games also stay here.
Fort Collins Marriott: 350 E. Horsetooth Rd., Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. 970-226-5200 or 800-342-4398.
Pertinent websites for the above Fort Collins, Colorado venues are in the “Resources” box.