White tents dot the landscape of the outer reaches of the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ground at home games during the football season. There are four of these popular events in 2016, with the Naval Academy beating Fordham University earlier this month and upcoming games with Connecticut (Sept 10), Memphis (October 22), Tulsa (November 12) – with the Big One scheduled for December 10 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
“Perimeter tailgating,” as it is officially known by the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NCAA), is a longstanding tradition overseen by this organization, which issues permits for 30’x40’ spaces big enough for a 20’x20’ tent. These permits are available to USNA grads, midshipmen, companies and civilians who often renew their places every year. In addition, says Barry Nolan of the USNA, early birds with a general parking pass can enter though gates 5 and 6 off Taylor Avenue and claim one of the spots along Taylor Avenue or tailgate in their 10’x10’parking spaces.
As the mother of a midshipman, I hosted many such a festive event during his four years at the Academy – often missing the football game to stay at our site for the convenience of the any guests who might arrive during lulls or intermission. I learned the hard way that there was never enough food for their voracious appetites – and each year vowed to bring more. And although he is now far away on a mission, I plan to recreate those days with another tailgate – and this time, I’ll sit in the stadium and watch the game.
Here are some places to provision your very own football party:
Graul’s Market: 607 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401. Open 8 am–8 pm. 410-269-5103.
This family-run market is located across the street from the stadium and is a favorite place for tailgaters to shop. The deli counter shines, with in-house roasted beef and turkey, a wide selection of domestic and imported cheeses as well as house-made chicken, shrimp and potato salads. Graul’s bakery is known for its breads, brownies, lemon squares, cookies and cakes. Lines at the deli counter are long on game weekends, but there is a special section of sandwiches to grab and go. Check out the gourmet display in front of the deli counter and the colorful fruit and vegetable stand that features local products.
Big Cheese: 47 Randall St., Annapolis MD 21401. Open 9 am-5:30 pm. 410-263-6915.
Another family-run shop offering well-endowed sandwiches on long baguettes or breads, Big Cheese is a downtown oasis if you are seeking picnic fare and a friendly atmosphere. Here you’ll also find fruits, cheeses, chips, sweets as well as gourmet soft drinks and wine. Owners Judy and Bob Schwarzberg have been pleasing the community for 24 years, specializing in party platters in addition to their specialty cheeses, chips, condiments and a nice selection of wines. Judy says they love catering to Navy people.
Eastport Kitchen: 923 Chesapeake Ave, Annapolis MD 21403. Open 7:30 am–3 pm daily. 410-990-0000.
Tony and Celia Moynagh opened this small eatery in an Eastport strip mall just a year ago and in short order it became a favorite among local foodies. Tony, who retired after a 35-year career with Clyde’s Restaurant Group, supervises a kitchen that produces its own roasted meats that makes sandwiches here special. While off the usual tourist track, a visit here will provide an exceptional picnic fare – from super-sized sandwiches to hand-held fruit pies like Tony’s mother used to make.
Note: Questions about tailgating at the stadium? Call Barry Nolan at 410-293-8786.