SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Finally, football is back in Utah and it’s kicking off with an all-day celebration thanks to the passionate fans backing the Utes.

While the Utah Utes don’t kick off against the Florida Gators until 6 p.m. later tonight, game day has already started for several fans at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Tailgaters have been filling the parking lot outside the University of Utah stadium since the Blue Supermoon set and the sun began rising over the Wasatch Front. Utah fans said they were eager and excited to fill the parking lot with games of cornhole and the smell of barbecue. One fan is even cooking up an alligator wrapped in bacon.

“That’s George,” said Lac Holmes, a Utah Ute fan. “When Florida comes to Utah, we cook a gator.”

Holmes said he and his family had been at the stadium since 6 a.m., before the sun even hinted at appearing behind the mountain. Why? Because it’s tradition.

“We come out here because we love tailgating. We wanted to get set up,” said Holmes. “Back in the day, when you weren’t assigned a spot, you had to get here. First come, first serve. Now, we are assigned spots but we never changed our tradition.”

Holmes said he and his family won’t leave the stadium until well after the game ends. They cook breakfast, lunch and dinner in the lot, all while hanging out with friends and fellow Utah fans – who he says he loves. Fellow fans such as Albert Gamboa. Just like Holmes, Gamboa has been at the stadium since before the crack of dawn.

“No matter what time the team plays, we always show up here by 6 or 5:30 in the morning,” said Gamboa. “Today, we got here late. We got here at 6:30 but we made it. We’re excited about today.”

Gamboa said he has been really excited about the game and having a big contender like the Florida Gators come to town. His love for the Utes runs deep, saying that even though it’s a rollercoaster with ups and downs, he still supports and loves his team.

Tailgating is just a bonus to the game where he can share his love for University of Utah football with other like-minded fans.

“The Utah family, you know?” said Gamboa. “All my friends, my wife, we are here. 45,000 plus fans here at the stadium. It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling today.”