Saturdays in the fall are always big days across the college football landscape.
There will be upsets, sure. Even more importantly, there will be hundreds of thousands of fans all celebrating a national holiday that one of Waxahachie's newer residents began as a way to honor his passion for one football staple.
Tailgating has long been considered a social event. But for Luke Lorick, who moved to Waxahachie in 2014, the weekend gatherings have turned into a business.
"It really has morphed into something bigger than I ever anticipated," he said. Lorick explained he initially created a brand, Tailgating Challenge, in 2012 as a way to test and review tailgating products on Saturdays. The professional-review service, more commonly known as a social media influencer nowadays, eventually brought about his idea to celebrate National Tailgating Day — only it didn't yet exist.
The national holiday is now celebrated annually on the first Saturday in September after being accepted by the Registrar at the National Day Calendar in 2016.
And it's also an official holiday in the City of Waxahachie.
Waxahachie Mayor David Hill presented Lorick with an official proclamation during a council meeting on May 20 that declares the first Saturday in September as "National Tailgating Day."
The proclamation signed by Hill and city secretary Lori Cartwright points to tailgates serving to "bring people of all backgrounds together and break social divides" that take place "at the tailgate of a pickup truck or trunk of a car, but neither are required."
"Much like building a community, tailgating hearkens back to a time when pioneering villages would come together to raise the framework of a building and often followed by a large meal," the proclamation adds. "Those who tailgate come back every year, weekend after weekend, and couples have met, families have grown, bonds have been forged, all through the community of tailgating."
Those reasons are exactly what drove Lorick to pursue the national holiday designation and a nationally registered trademark, both of which he has accomplished. Of course, they are also what helped turn the hobby into a business.
According to Lorick, Tailgating Challenge has only recently begun to turn a profit, which was mostly by design.
He stressed a need to establish a brand and a solid reputation. Otherwise, Tailgating Challenge might not be taken seriously while bouncing around from tailgate to tailgate testing everything from motorized coolers to belt-buckle beer can holders or even specialized cornhole boards.
"Now it is more of a marketing, ambassador, influencer-style business where I can help market and show off products for companies and do reviews for them to help with crowdfunding and Kickstarter," Lorick said. "I really just help do promotions for companies, especially this time of the year and for those who were looking to get in front of that outdoor and tailgating market."
Currently, Lorick's Tailgating Challenge has over 187,000 Facebook likes, 23,200 Twitter followers and another 29,600 follows on Instagram.
The numbers are still a little shocking to say aloud, he admitted.
"Facebook was where I started to roll everything out on and where it really started," Lorick said. "Then I started to do the other programs to get a little more traction because it's always good to diversify. But I had zero clue that it would ever take off to this extent.
"I know there are still far bigger pages and sites than mine out there, but for me to sort of still be doing it by myself and hold down a regular during the day and just managing this on the side, it is definitely gotten bigger than what I anticipated."
Yes, Lorick still drives five days a week from Waxahachie to Richardson for his day job. Saturdays, though, those are for the parking lots around football stadiums.
He has also enlisted the helped of a few neighbors in the Katy Lake subdivision, specifically Michael "Sketchy" Graf and Larry Dollus, who both help Lorick film the videos he posts to social media. Of course, he also passed praise to his wife, Meredith, for her continued support.
A few products that he's recently tested that standout includes the motorized cooler (think electric scooter but with a cold drink compartment) and the remote-controlled cooler — complete with speakers, headlights and more.
"Those are probably the two that everyone has seemed to enjoy the most over the years," Lorick said. He also detailed a 'warped hole' set that turns the traditional cornhole game on its head. "It is just like corn hole, but the boards are literally warped so there is a wave in the boards and it requires a whole different skillset that you need to bring."
For anyone curious at home, cornhole — the regular-style with either one, three or five holes — is still Lorick's tailgating game of choice. He has also recently reviewed a lawn chair that converts into a cornhole board.
As for National Tailgating Day, Lorick said he is always thrilled to see it roll back around because it gives him another opportunity to share his passion with friends, family and tailgaters everywhere.
"I'm always very excited because I am very passionate about it," said Lorick, who had to skip out on a traditional football-parking-lot tailgate in 2018 to attend a traditional wedding in South Carolina. Lorick graduated from the University of South Carolina, which is also where he attended his first tailgate as a child.
He added, "I'm always telling people to use #NationalTailgatingDay if they are doing any fun stuff this weekend and we will respond to it, give them shout outs and post some of the best ones just so we can show off how people are living it up."
If anyone wants to interact with Lorick and Tailgating Challenge, he encourages tailgaters to reach out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tailgatingchallenge, Twitter at www.twitter.com/tailgatingchall or Instagram at www.instagram.com/tailgatingchallenge.
"I'm really passionate about it, and I know that we are in Texas, so I know they were other folks who are pumped up for college football and NFL football," he said. "We are just ready to get this thing going."