For most sports fans, tailgating is just as enjoyable as the game itself.

Regulars like Abby Chastin and Doug Miller have turned tailgating into an art. The St. Joseph couple enjoy meeting up with friends at football and baseball games. They arrive anywhere from six to four hours before game time and shut down about an hour before to allow time for clean up.

But tailgating starts way before the parking lot.

Chastin says she makes her hamburger patties and any kabobs the night before.

“I prefer to plan for foods that can be eaten with our hands,” she said. “This way I don’t have to worry about paper plates or utensils. Just pack a bunch of napkins and go with it.”

She also puts about a dozen water bottles in the freezer so there’s plenty of cold hydration.

Other tips Miller has learned over the years is to label coolers and bring an empty storage container to put dirty items that aren’t trash. Extra trash bags are a good idea, too.

“We look at tailgating almost like camping,” Miller said. “It’s a very similar concept. Everything needs to be prepared and packed up in a small space and have an easy cleanup. I can’t stand it when people completely trash the parking lots.”

Tailgaters should always check on their team’s website or with school officials before assuming what they can or can’t do.

At Arrowhead Stadium, for example, tailgating is encouraged in all areas at Truman Sports Complex, according to the Chiefs’ website. It states that parking spaces may not be used for tailgate equipment alone, and the total tailgate, including guests, is limited to eight feet behind each parking space.

Tailgaters are asked to keep their items out of the aisles in order to accommodate emergency vehicles, too.

Some other basics to remember to bring: sunscreen, umbrella, chairs, canopy, Sharpie (to write your name on your drink) and disinfecting wipes.