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Tailgating at Lambeau Field: Come for the football, stay for the culture

Syndication: PackersNews Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s only fitting that tailgating at the place often called the Mecca of professional football can be described as a religious experience.

There is a reason why Lambeau Field is at or near the top of bucket lists for countless football fans regardless of team loyalty. It’s not just the history of the team or the stadium. It’s not just the city and it’s definitely not the weather, especially in December and January.

It’s the culture.

The state of Wisconsin used to have a slogan that was on countless bumper stickers: “You’re among friends.” When you are in the Lambeau Field parking lot or surrounding lots (or maybe even someone’s driveway or backyard), you’re among friends. It doesn’t matter what colors you’re wearing, though you can expect some good-natured cajoling if you’re there as a fan of Green Bay’s opponent. At this place, for these few hours, nothing else matters but football.

We live in a time where division and vitriol reign supreme. We often seek out what separates us instead of what brings us together. As a society, we spend more time yelling at one another than we do speaking to each other and learning about each other. Outrage has become the order of the day and we think we are just screaming at problems, forgetting there is another human being on the other side.

All of that is forgotten for a few hours on game day at and around 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Stories about family and football memories are swapped instead of opinions on the latest bad news dominating our world. You could be chatting with someone who could be the complete opposite of you on the political spectrum, but you would never know it, because today only one thing matters: football. Handshakes and hugs will be swapped instead of insults, and it is all but guaranteed you will end the day in a better mood regardless of how the Packers (or their opponent if you’re one of their fans) performed.

You will end the day with a renewed faith in humanity, and even if that renewal only lasts until you return to the office on Monday, it gives a sense that there is still good in this world and we aren’t completely screwed. Well, not yet anyway. Countless lifelong friendships start at Packers tailgates, and the spark for those friendships has been nothing more than just a shared love of the team.

This might all sound overly poetic and dramatic, but it is also the truth. This is the quintessential tailgating experience at Lambeau Field. People you did not know a day earlier will invite you for a beer, a brat, and banter that will warm your heart and soul even on the most frigid of Wisconsin days and nights. You might even be a Bears or Vikings fan and you’ll still be treated like family.

No insults. No slurs. No questionable nicknames. Just kindness, respect, and a callback to an era long lost but not yet dead.

Green Bay is where football rules the day, not scoring political points and firing off that spicy take just to get clicks and attention. NFL stadiums are just not right next door to residential neighborhoods anymore, which makes Lambeau Field truly unique. The history that seems to radiate from the stadium extends to the area surrounding it, and indeed the entire city of Green Bay.

That history also carries the aura of a more decent era and that’s why tailgating is so special at Lambeau Field. You will be welcomed with open arms and open coolers as you crack open a beer among strangers and finish that same beer among friends. You will depart Lambeau Field not just with a full stomach, but a full heart. People you didn’t know just a few hours ago will now be part of memories you will cherish forever. They will forever become part of your football family, which is only fitting.

Why? It’s simple.

Friends, family, and football are what the Lambeau Field tailgating experience is all about.