Wafting over the tops of tents and swirling around the heads of people drowned in orange, the smell of charcoal hits your nose and fills your head with thoughts of food and football.
Tens of thousands made their way to Stillwater on Saturday for the opening game of college football at Oklahoma State; the streets that are capable of holding the normal population of the town swell to a bursting point as the countdown to kickoff ticks closer.
It looks like Halloween in September, but that's the norm in Stillwater, as fans clad in head to toe OSU regalia walk past the orange and black storefronts to their prospective tailgating areas.
Aldo Waters, 51, arrived in Stillwater from Ardmore about 7 a.m., a mere 11 hours before OSU would take on the Ragin' Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Waters made quick work of claiming the corner of one of OSU's parking lots and setting up his trailer; which is more like the Optimus Prime of trailers as its hydraulic lift kicks into motion and transforms into an OSU themed wet bar.
“I saw it at Dallas Cowboys game,” he said. “I knew I had to get it and make it a OSU Cowboys game day bar.”
Could be the season
The enthusiasm in the air is palpable; the Cowboys are ranked in the preseason top 10, season ticket sales are being shattered, the excitement for food, beer and camaraderie allows fans to gather in throngs to sit in the heat and dream about the season that could be.
Mark Luetkemeyer and Kevin Winter set up their 55-inch flat screen television at their tailgate. Italian sausage and beer is the menu as they prepare to feed 40 to 50 ravenously hungry fans.
“We come up on Friday nights and stay the night so we can be out here all day,” Luetkemeyer said. “We've been waiting a long time for a season like this, ever since the last game last year. This is the year, that's the way I feel every year.”
Across the street from the Luetkemeyer/Winter tailgate, the Cowboy marching band strides down the sidewalk and lets roar a chant of “Orange.” The resulting answer of “Power” is enough to blow your hair back.