Jesse Reyes stood outside Bakersfield College's Memorial Stadium cooking potato, bacon and refried bean breakfast burritos on a propane-fueled grill.
The sky was overcast and there was a steady mist that was ominously close to rain, but Reyes couldn't stop smiling about landing a tailgate spot large enough to accommodate the roughly 50 people who would be joining him later.
"My cousin lives right over there," Reyes said Friday morning, pointing to University Avenue. "She called me yesterday and said I'd better get over here because they were letting people in and it was filling up fast."
The occasion was Saturday's California Community College Athletic Association football title game against the formidable City College of San Francisco. The Renegades and the Rams have only three losses between them this season, and tickets to the highly anticipated match-up were going fast.
So many recreational vehicles, vans and trucks lined up outside one of the stadium's parking lots Thursday that the college was forced to let people in earlier than planned.
"We were supposed to open at seven, but we ended up letting people in at five because we had a line stretching down and around Mt. Vernon (Avenue)," said college spokeswoman Amber Chiang. "Both tailgate lots were filled by 9 o'clock."
More than three quarters of the roughly 19,000-seat stadium was sold out Friday morning, and tickets were still selling briskly, Chiang said in a Friday afternoon telephone interview.
It's been decades since BC had a big rivalry game of this magnitude, said Reyes, 57, who's been a loyal Renegades fan since his brother attended BC in the 1960s.
"It's a big game," he said.
Reyes and an older brother went home to sleep in their own beds after parking, but returned early to start making breakfast.
Chris Trevino, 21, toughed it out overnight, sleeping in his van after getting in line about 4:30 p.m. Thursday to stake his claim.
"It was cold," he said. "I only slept about two or three hours."
Trevino attended school in Texas, but he has a cousin who plays wide receiver for the Renegades and didn't want to take any chances.
Friday morning, Trevino was guarding the space while awaiting friends and relatives who would be sharing "tri-tip, brisket, chicken, the whole shebang."
Trevino's father is the grill master, he added. "There are three boys. He taught us everything we know about cooking."
Peltra Brim, 44, was anticipating watching his nephew play for the Renegades as he set up camp around a huge recreational vehicle.
Neither the wait nor the weather could dampen his cheerful mood.
"It's just a peaceful, wholesome environment to bring your family," Brim said. "You get to see people you haven't seen since high school and you roam around trying each other's food."
Oh, and there's the game, of course. Brim refused to call this particular one special or extraordinary in any way.
"All the games are special," he said. "I love football, whether they win or lose."