Adam Richman examines the art of the tailgate party in Travel Channel’s “Fandemonium”

He’s hunted down America’s most gut-busting food challenges, sought its best sandwiches — and now Adam Richman is ready to party.

For his newest series, Adam Richman’s Fandemonium, the popular Travel Channel host crisscrosses the nation, immersing himself in its most unique tailgate bashes — those time-honored, uniquely American parking-lot parties that are often as much an event as the events they precede.

“There’s a very special magic to being a fan, to being part of something larger than yourself,” Richman says of the idea behind the show. “And especially in this economy, for a family, for anyone, to spend the amount of money and energy that a passionate fan does to support an event, an athletic team, a hobby — it’s really quite beautiful, in my opinion.”

Keen on spotlighting fan culture and ingenuity, but worried that tailgating itself might be too sports-centric, Richman and his crew dug in and discovered that the pastime also happens everywhere from the legendary Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas, to the icy Arctic Man competition in Copper Creek, Alaska — and a host of “mudding,” music and food festivals in between. And he couldn’t wait to experience all of them.

“What we do with Fandemonium is, without any judgment and with an open heart and mind, I just dive into the fan culture,” explains Richman, who also travels to the Kentucky Derby; the legendary miniature city that is the Daytona 500 infield; the Bonnaroo camping and arts extravaganza in Manchester, Tenn.; and beyond. “I eat what they eat, drink what they drink, do their traditions, and learn their songs, their dances, their history.” At the end of each episode, Richman displays his newfound knowledge via a spectacular token of his appreciation — “one moment, one gift, one giveaway that says thank you to these fans for years upon years of passion.”

It’s that unbridled passion that Richman believes will enthrall viewers, whether they relate to each episode’s event or not. “We filmed at the Memphis in May barbecue event and there were people that, I kid you not, spend between $20,000 and $40,000 for one weekend in Memphis,” Richman marvels. “To them that is not an indulgence. That is the most natural progression of thought and the most natural progression of their passion. I think that is just so great.”

In between tailgate adventures, the inexhaustible New Yorker treks to Los Angeles to host NBC’s upcoming amateur-battles-pro food competition Food Fighters — a lifestyle he says is the ultimate indulgence of his own passions.

“I’m pretty much doing two shows simultaneously until August,” says Richman, who also has an upcoming cookbook and digital series, and is planning an international Travel Channel show called Destination Delicious slated to debut in late 2013 or early 2014. “It’s amazing to be able to live in that duality — to be able to do the big, ornate, deeply managed network show and then to be able to go to Travel Channel and make it about raw expression and unbridled joy!”

Adam Richman’s Fandemonium premieres Sunday, July 14, on Travel Channel

Images: Travel Channel

About Lori Acken

Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.
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