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How to make the most of your college football game day weekend at Ole Miss

Welcome to the land of the Rebels, Faulkner and some of the best damn food in the South

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Alabama at Mississippi Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s come time for you, a college football fan, to visit Ole Miss and Oxford — one of the truly special places in the landscape of the sport.

For all the pageantry and tradition, Oxford is a city with deep historic roots where visitors can spend an extra couple of nights outside of a football Saturday and explore the things that make not only the college town a unique place but also the state of Mississippi.

Land of Faulkner

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi,” William Faulkner once wrote. Faulkner’s one-time home Rowan Oak would be a must-stop for anyone planning a trip to Oxford. The original Greek revival style residence was built in the 1840’s later falling into disrepair when Faulkner decided to take on the home as a project and did many of the renovations himself. The Nobel laureate’s own handwriting is still visible on the plaster walls inside the home, and it is a lasting vestige of one of the greatest American writers of the last century.

Bailey Woods surrounds the stately home that is in the National Register of Historic Places. These woods run adjacent to the Ole Miss campus and also include a half mile walking trail that is heavily wooded and a nice little escape from the world - just turn off your phone for 15 minutes and enjoy the peacefulness of a Mississippi forest.

Now, this next little piece might weird some of y’all out, but it’s a tradition at least among my circle of friends. Faulkner’s gravesite is in the Oxford Memorial Cemetery, and the customary way to visit is to bring some whiskey, take a shot, pour a shot for Faulkner and leave the remainder for the author. I’m assuming there’s like a local who lives nearby who started this tradition to collect free booze everyday but who knows.


Ok, you’ve done all the free stuff walking around and seeing a couple sites. Now, it’s time to burn up the dadgum plastic in your wallet on the Oxford Square. Neilson’s Department Store is the oldest store in the state and predates the university by nearly a decade opening in 1839. If you have a picture in your mind of what Ole Miss students and alumni wear, you can probably find the right attire to match here. It’s a trip back in time where there is still customer service that is friendly not because they are employees but because its true hospitality.

There’s plenty of shopping on the square to get whatever you might need to be ready for gameday whether its a seersucker suit, cocktail dress or Quinshon Judkins jersey. Spots like Hinton & Hinton and Village Tailor have been there for years outfitting students and alumni alike.

If you are a nerd like me, a stop at Square Books is also a must. The decades old book store, yes a real live book store in the year of our Lord 2023, has that distinct smell of books, printed pages, a rich yet unmistakable aroma giving you an air of pretentiousness, because you’re about to buy and MAYBE even read a dang book. The store often has book signings including one of the latest by former Rebel Michael Oher of The BlindSide fame. The staff here also is incredibly well versed and helpful.

Time to eat

Alright now on a game weekend, reservations to some of the higher end places are very hard to come by with restaurants opening up the window for reservations in June and booking completely up soon after. If you’re fortunate enough to get a spot at City Grocery, take it because it is a James Beard award winning chef’s top notch offerings. Also on the square, there’s a bevy of options for southern inspired cuisine at Ajax Diner and Boure, or there’s pizza and Cajun fare at Proud Larry’s, which has a solid patio area as well for people watching.

Otherwise, there’s a local gem you may have even seen before on ESPN — Taylor Grocery. It is a short 15-20 minute drive south to Taylor, Miss. at a gas station store turned country catfish shrine. I’ve never lived north of I-40 in my life, so take this opinion very seriously. This is the best damn catfish you can eat period. There’s old gas pumps out front long since operable, and the people waiting in the parking lot to go in all have the classic red cups filled with ice and brown water. It may take an hour or two to get a table, but it is worth the wait. It’s very likely there will be some live blues music inside taking you back to a Mississippi of 50 or more years ago. Get the all you can eat catfish, brown rice, and go all in on some rotel fries. Bring a brown bag of your favorite booze and for Pete’s sake take your time, you’re in Mississippi where things move just a little slower.


Of course, no gameday at Ole Miss is complete without a trip to the Grove. Thousands of tents fill the pristine acreage in the middle of campus, and whether you know someone at a tent or not, you can likely get a quick invite if you aren’t from here.

There’s always a focus on the chandeliers, silver platters and upscale tents on broadcasts from Ole Miss games, and yes, a lot of fans get dressed a little finer than the jersey and jeans crowd. However, there’s plenty of tents with tables that have no tablecloth, no catered food and styrofoam coolers full of cold beer. Visiting fans can always find a place to fit in is all I’m getting at with those sentences.

Tens of thousands of people will pack into this slice of college football heaven, and when you’ve had your fill of food and drink, the Pride of the South marching band will have its pregame performance an hour and a half before kickoff near the big, green stage. After that, it’s a mad rush to get one more refill and make the 5-10 minute walk to Vaught Hemingway. Just follow the crowd, and you’ll make it just fine.

If it’s raining, you’ll want to keep your good Sunday church shoes at the house as the Grove can be a muddy mess at times. There’s some tents with temporary astroturf or carpets laid down and maybe even hay or straw, but there’s no true solution to mud and rain.

Ultimately, Ole Miss people are some of the finest you will come across as long as you’re looking for a good time. The saying around Oxford is Ole Miss may not win every game, but they’ve never lost a party. Cheers!