The University of Mississippi proudly flies the colors of crimson and navy blue. But another important color scheme on the campus is Zebra! The Zebra Tent has been a gameday tailgating landmark for about 20 years. But this is not your ordinary tailgating set-up. Elaborately styled food, inventive themed decorations, and ZEBRA. So much Zebra.
Menus are planned out for the season with the planning starting early in the summer. The themes are chosen based on that weekend's opposing team. It's all in good fun, and the Zebra Tent welcomes Ole Miss fans and rival visitors equally with open arms. Everyone leaves with full bellies and new friends.
What is the Zebra Tent?
We spoke with Jane Foster, Zebra Tent Founder and Organizer. Her bubbly and gracious personality is everything you'd imagine about Southern hospitality. She started decorating with zebra stripes simply so friends and family could easily find them on gameday.
"I had no idea the journey this would take us on. We started getting visitors who were just curious and we wanted to have food to offer them, so it just really evolved from that. Several families became a part of the tent and we started decorating together for fun. Then when College game Day came in and interviewed me, they asked if everyone was welcome at the Zebra Tent...I said yes and we had over 2000 visitors on the next SEC (Southeastern Conference) game."
The Zebra Tent now has a team of three who do the food and decorating. With all this notoriety comes sponsors, allowing the Zebra Tent to give back to charities.
"When people ask what they can bring we tell them nothing, if they insist, they can make a donation to Susan G Komen or The Marks Project in honor of the Zebra Tent. It is our mission to show the nation what a great place Ole Miss is. We love for people to leave with a newfound love for Mississippi."
While the Zebra pattern is what you see first, the food is even more eye-catching and plentiful. Chafing dishes of addictive meatballs, make-your-own taco bar, color-coordinated fruit skewers, and flowing mimosas.
"We always have a ton of food much like the finger food you would see at a southern wedding. We do a kids table too. It has candy, desserts and other fun surprises. The food always has a different and cool presentation."
To visit the Zebra Tent, Just drop in! or you can contact Jane and company @Southernshine2017 on Instagram or TikTok pages.
Yes, the food is amazing. But Jane really stresses the social importance of tailgating in general. Even if you're not into the football game itself, Game Day is for everyone at the Zebra Tent.
"Tailgating is a way to bring couples and families together. We rarely do things together anymore. The friendships and memories are what make life so sweet. This platform has allowed us to host a several Make a Wish kids, providing the Game Day experience to families who otherwise couldn't afford it."
The Zebra Tent "family" helps give freshmen a tailgating "home" as they make new college friends. There have been engagement parties for couples who met at the Zebra Tent, birthdays, and even a NYC Fireman's bachelor party!
Jane is still amazed at the impact a not-so-simple zebra patterned tent and lots of good food can make.
"For some, it's a bucket list experience, and we are so happy to make it happen. These Zebra Stripes have offered more opportunities to make a difference then I ever could have dreamed."