Packers in Prairie du Chien

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Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy addresses the crowd and the seven former and current players at the Tailgate Tour Party at the Barn Restaurant Wednesday evening. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

A group of happy Green Bay Packer fans go through the autograph line.

Owen Oldenburg and Westin Marx of Prairie du Chien display their Packer footballs.

 

Packer fans thoroughly enjoy Tailgate Tour event

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Hundreds of diehard and always enthusiastic Green Bay Packers fanatics filled the Barn Restaurant Wednesday evening to meet some of the players, past and present, from their favorite team.

The Green Bay Packers 10th Anniversary Tailgate Tour stop in Prairie du Chien allowed their loyal, local followers to get up and personal with Team President Mark Murphy as well as Packer Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer, Packer and NFL Hall of Famer Dave Robinson, Gilbert “The Grave digger” Brown, Bill Schroeder, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward and Andrew Quarless. 

The event also allowed the Packers organization to recognize the unmatched support  their fans give the team while also raising money to help support the St. Feriole Island Ballpark in Prairie du Chien. 

In kicking off the event, Murphy said that the Green Bay Packers have “the best fans in the world” and that the Tailgate Tour is in recognition for their unwavering support as evidenced by sold out Lambeau Field year after year after year. Murphy noted that while other NFL teams may hold similar events in order to increase ticket sales, the Packers, whose 13 World Championships are far more than any other NFL team, have no such need and that the team simply wants to give back to its great fans in several Wisconsin communities each year. “Our fans are the best. We are always sold out. There is nowhere else like it,” Murphy said.

Murphy then turned the microphone over to the players, who each, in turn, responded to fans’ questions. When asked to compare the great Packers teams of the “Glory Years” of the 1960s and today’s team, guard Jerry Kramer said, “They are very similar teams because they both set very high standards, pride and a belief in self and each other to achieve their highest.” Kramer also predicted a Packer victory in next season’s 50th Super Bowl, with the crowd immediately erupting in cheers and applause.

The autograph session followed the players’ comments and the line stretched to the front door. Players also enjoyed tossing small, souvenir footballs to the crowd. One woman screamed in delighted hysteria as she received a hug from former defensive lineman Gilbert Brown. 

Six hundred tickets were sold for the event and fanatics young, old and in between came from throughout the Prairie du Chien area, with many flowing across the river from Iowa.

“This was really good, it was awesome,” said one young man named, believe it or not, Favre Weber, a 9-year-old from Central City, Iowa. Favre and his 7-year-old brother Cash each proudly displayed autographed footballs and said that Micah Hyde who played college football for the Iowa Hawkeyes was their favorite player. 

“We will be there in July to watch Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame induction ceremony,” said Favre and Cash’s father Matt Weber, who noted that his family, like many from around the country have carried on the family tradition of being Packer fans down through the generations.

Two young fans from Prairie du Chien also greatly enjoyed the event. “It was cool. It was once in a lifetime,” said Owen Oldenburg, 11, who noted that Jordy Nelson is his favorite Packer. Westin Marx, 7, got to try on Mark Murphy’s Super Bowl ring and said that his favorite is Clay Matthews. Both young men also said they are fans of Micah Hyde. 

During a brief break in the autograph session, Hyde said, “The Tailgate Tour has been very strong. It’s been great meeting all of the fans.” Hyde said that competing at the highest level and the strong friendships that one builds are the most enjoyable parts of being a Green Bay Packer. As for the Packers’ outlook next season, Hyde said, “We are the Green Bay Packers. We always have a great chance to win the Super Bowl.”

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