What do you get when you mix a broken-down school bus, a love for great steaks and a diehard group of football fans?
Perhaps one of the greatest tailgate experiences in the Midwest.
When “The Fan Van Crew” started tailgating in 2008, 10 seasons ago, they would have laughed if someone told them their tailgate would include a fully renovated school bus, a sponsor and nearly 100 people gathering for breakfast and lunch before kickoff of their favorite team – the Kansas City Chiefs.
But 10 years in, that’s exactly what they have.
Founding member Brent Cable says, “We’ve taken this tailgate to every level we can think of, some of us even have Fan Van tattoos. This is a fraternity to us, we spend more time together than I do with some of my own family members.”
The envy of their tailgating neighbors, this crew has taken “above and beyond” quite literally. What started as two dads watching their kids play soccer together while discussing their love for sports, has now turned into an all-encompassing adventure.
It didn’t start out being the envy of others, especially when the founding members were walking around an old yellow school bus, abandoned in a field in mid-Missouri.
They found the bus on Craigslist, and when they offered $1,500 for it, the seller told them only if they’d take his old Ford Taurus too.
After some negotiating, the bus left with them, the old car stayed put.
Months of sweat equity including ripping the bus down to the floor boards, tearing the seats out and rebuilding it from the ground up, provided the cornerstone (and the transportation) to the all-out tailgate.
The Fan Van Crew is a membership-based tailgate party, where members pay dues each year to fund what it takes to keep the bus rolling and the steaks cooking.
With 20 core members, the team divides responsibility where each couple is responsible for one home game per season. And by responsible, that means preparing, cooking and serving two parking lot made meals to as many as 100 people by the time the 20 invite friends and family.
Talk about a feast.
And for each of the 10 home games, the stakes get higher (and the steaks get hotter) by the next group trying to outdo the previous couple’s efforts.
Marc Dipoto, the other founding member added, “The best part is to see how much fun everyone is having and how we all keep trying to raise the bar with a better meal than the week before.”
The group has been known to provide lamb chops, pork steaks, brisket, meat skewers, jambalaya, Italian dishes, cheesesteaks, burgers, and of course the king of meats – steak.
It’s the heartland of America, so naturally steaks are the staple of this upscale tailgate.
“We roll in about 7:30, everyone has a job, the tents get set up, the grills get fired up, the music starts blasting, it really is a sight to behold,” the founding duo described.
10 days out of the year, this all-day affair is a huge commitment, both in time and money. But with 20 people to share the load (and the fun), the payoff is well worth the effort.
“We’ve been going to the same party for the last 10 years,” Brent said.
“Yeah, and in no way is that disappointing,” Marc finished.