A trip to the Hillbilly Hilton

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It’s tough letting Murfreesboro go. Really, it is. And that’s mainly because of the friendly folks who converged on the parking lots around Floyd Stadium for Maryland’s trip to town.

These were folks were ecstatic a major-college team had come to their place. That’s what Tim Tipps, a candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives, said to me as we stood outside the Hillbilly Hilton.

The highlight of all highlights, though, was the tour of the Hilton itself.

First of all, here’s a look from the front of this sucker, which is a veteran of the Talladega infield, among other places.

Hillbilly Hilton

Anyway, there are some amazing amenities, which owner Danny Farrer showed me as he proudly gave me a tour. There’s a DirecTV dish, a laptop, heavens knows only how much food.

“Y’all are the right height for the Hilton,” Farrer said as he led me and Turtle Sports Report’s Seth Hoffman into the converted 1976 school bus.

Here’s the story: Farrer bought it in 1995 for $1,500 in Cookeville, Tenn., and stripped it clean of the bubble gum and gaudy green seats you expect to see on a school bus.

Let’s put it this way: It doesn’t look like a school bus on the inside – not after five figures worth of renovations

Farrer has it set up to sleep as many as eight people, although only two bunks are regularly ready to go. There are a pair of tables near the front that can be converted into beds, but for the most part they’re just comfortable places to sit:

table

But, really, why would you want to hang out there when there’s a lot more to be seen. Like a huge tailgate just outside the vehicle. Or the half-bathroom that would be the envy of most RVs. There’s a huge galley in the back, all the better for feeding the fans who gravitate toward the Hilton.

And gravitate they do. The Hilton is the centerpiece of the Krewe De Blue, which probably had its biggest party ever on Saturday after Middle Tennessee upended Maryland 24-14.

Before the game, there was still a good time to be had. Farrer offered up a tip or two on the secrets of the Hilton as friends and family slipped through the vehicle.

“The most fun to ride is back here, because there’s no wind back here,” he said as he stepped out onto a back ledge.

I wasn’t brave enough to go up top, but it has to be a fine perch at Talladega. It also works well for the Blue Raiders’ home baseball games when the Hilton is parked just beyond the outfield fence.

This is the sort of deal you don’t see everywhere. At a lot of schools, prime parking is occupied by the biggest donors, and that may well be the case at Middle Tennessee, too.

But even though the school’s undergraduate enrollment is big – the largest in the state, Farrer said, larger than both Tennessee and Memphis – there was a definite sense of egalitarianism throughout the lots.

And no where was that more obvious than at the Hilton – a must-see for anyone who happens to be in Murfreesboro for a football game.

Patrick Stevens

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