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Weber study shows grilling No. 1 activity for tailgating

Football, Nascar events ranked highest

Grilling is now the No. 1 activity among Americans tailgating at a game or event, according to the third annual Weber Tailgating Study. Eighty-two percent cite firing up the grill as their favorite activity in the parking lot or infield, with 80% citing "talking to other tailgaters" as their second.

Ninety-six percent of Americans surveyed said grilling is either "always" or "sometimes" a part of their tailgating parties. This figure has remained consistently high since the Weber Tailgating Study's inception in 2003.

Sporting events continue to top the list of where people like to tailgate (88%) with football remaining the favorite at 74%. Auto races ranked as the second favorite sporting event for tailgating at 20%, with NASCAR being the favorite kind of auto racing.

Further demonstrating the growing importance of tailgating, the mean starting time for a tailgating party before an event is about three and a half hours. Fourteen percent actually start five or more hours prior. In addition, 65% either "always" or "sometimes" keep the party going during the game or event, and 81% either "always" or "sometimes' continue afterward.

The Weber Tailgating Study is the nation's first and original comprehensive study that reveals why, how, when and where Americans tailgate. For the study, Weber commissioned third-party research firm Synovate to electronically survey 1,000 Americans (500 males and 500 females) who tailgate. All respondents were over 18 years old and attended a minimum of two tailgating parties during the last 12 months. The sample is representative of the general population based on household data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Charcoal grills lead tailgating
While this year's study shows a slight majority of Americans have one grill at their tailgates (54%), an increasing number bring two grills or more (46%), which is up from 2004's 43% and 2003's lower figure of 31%. This year's study also shows that 9% of these people fire up three grills or more.

Charcoal continues to be the most popular kind of grill Weber Tailgating Study respondents bring to tailgating parties (66%), and that favoritism has increased from last year's 61%. Gas grill preference among all respondents has decreased from 46% to 42%.

Interestingly, charcoal models are brought more often by households earning under $50,000 a year at 75%, and gas models are brought more often by households earning at least $100,000 annually at 54%.

While most Americans bring portable grills to tailgating parties, the percentage that brings "full-size" models has increased to 35% from 31% over the last year.

Popular grill foods and beverages for tailgating
Hamburgers continue to top the list as the most popular food (89%) since the study began, followed by the usual fare of hot dogs (second at 84%) and brats (67%). Chicken again comes in fourth (65%). This year, steak increased significantly to 56% -- up from 47% two years ago. Fish is also a growing favorite at 14%.

The popularity of beer as Americans' most favorite tailgating beverage (73%) continues to climb – from 2004's 71% and 2003's 66%. Following beer are soda (62%), water (48%) and lemonade (23%). The other top alcoholic beverages in addition to beer are wine (21%), margaritas (18%) and Bloody Marys (12%); some even enjoy martinis (4%).

Other tailgating habits
Study respondents' favorite tailgating gear rank as folding chairs and coolers (90% each), a table (64%), radio/portable stereo/CD player (60%) and blankets (58%). More than one-fourth of tailgaters pack along a television set (28%).

When regularly attending the same venue, nearly half of tailgaters try to set up their party in the same spot (45%), with 14% saying they always set up in the same area. Among these, those attending college football games are the most diligent when staking their claim at 18%.

"Rock 'n' roll classics" continue to be the favorite music choice (54%) at tailgating parties. However, country music is steadily rising in popularity from 27% in 2003 and 31% in 2004 – to this year's 36%.

The kicker
If there were a "Super Bowl of Tailgating," the majority of Americans believe they would be "in contention" at 53%, including 20% who think they might have a "shot at the wildcard spot," and 16% who think they would "definitely win the playoffs."