Nearing the end zone

Party atmosphere,
excitement build as
big game approaches.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Some Missouri Tigers football fans spent Tuesday night in a field outside Independence Stadium. Barb Dillon and her friends have spent three nights there — in an RV.

Dillon, her husband, Harry, and three others arrived Sunday night from Portland, Mo., and took up temporary residence in an RV park set aside for fans in town for tonight’s Independence Bowl game against Arkansas.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, Dillon’s group received a special honor when a TV reporter tapped on their window and announced, “You are the official first Independence Bowl fans.”

With every hotel room in Shreveport and neighboring Bossier City booked, the RV park began filling up Sunday. By Tuesday afternoon, about 10 RVs were parked in the area.

“This is the best vacation we’ve ever done, following the Mizzou team,” said Dillon, who traveled to every Tigers home game and three away games this season in the RV.

Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dillon — the designated camp cook — was cooking marinated deer meat, pork steak and ribs on two mini grills. She scoffed at the barbecue methods of the Independent Aggies, an MU agricultural group that was parked about 20 feet from Dillon and friends.

“They burnt their pit up already,” Dillon said.

About 11 members of the Aggies left Columbia at 2 a.m. Tuesday in an RV owned by the father of MU senior John Rich. For food and drink, the Aggies brought a reserve grand champion hog from the Missouri State Fair and two kegs of beer.

Not everyone was entirely comfortable, though. Emily Hause, Christal Huber and Jessica Bartholomew complained to Rich because he refused to hook up the camper’s shower.

“That means we have to walk back after taking a cold shower,” Hause said as she pointed to the camp showers about 150 feet away.

As Rich tried to restart his barbecue grill, Doug Cozy, a member of Dillon’s group, drove by in a truck. He rolled down the window to yell, “Time to party.”

Rich said he saw several cars filled with Arkansas fans during the drive to Shreveport. He said they treated him better than he expected.

“They all just honked, gave a thumbs-down and waved,” Rich said.

Cozy agreed that the reception MU fans received from their rivals has been great.

“I don’t mind Razorbacks, but I hate Kansas,” Cozy said. “I don’t think anybody likes Kansas.”

Rich has tailgated at every MU home game since he has been in school but has never gone inside the stadium. He insists, however, that he will watch tonight’s game, which starts at 6:30 p.m.

“I’ve got to watch at least one,” Rich said.

Dillon, wearing a gray sweat suit and a Missouri visor, said she won’t go into Independence Stadium tonight because she feels she jinxes the team.

“The only ones they lost were ones that I bought a ticket and went into the stadium,” said Dillon, who plans to cook and listen to the game on the radio.

“I know they’re going to win,” she said, “and they’re going to win by one touchdown.”

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