Food, friendship and football: Husker style.

  • Joe Millard enjoying a drink during halftime of the Sept. 26 game against Southern Miss.

By Spencer Hansen, NewsNetNebraska

Tucked away on the corner lot at Eighth and L streets in the industrial southern Haymarket sits a little corral of campers and tents safe from the hustle and bustle of game day traffic in downtown Lincoln.

Lincolnites Joe Millard, 59, and his wife, Leanna, 50, spend weekends tailgating on this lot with friends and family. What started out as game day tailgating with his firefighter buddies 10 years ago has since evolved into their own weekend getaway.

“I recently retired in December after 33 years in service,” Millard said. “Now I don’t have to worry about using vacation days to come tailgate.”

Millard has groups coming to his lot from Fremont, Norfolk, Elkhorn — and even Iowa and Canada — to spend weekends together from Friday nights to Sunday afternoons. He likes to call it “urban camping.”

But visitors and new friends are always welcome.

He vividly remembers one game against Texas when their tailgate was closer to the stadium. It started snowing in the fourth quarter. There was a fumble. Ndamukong Suh dove on the ball, but it slipped out underneath him. Texas recovered it and scored at the last second to win it.

Everyone was devastated.

“The beauty about tailgating is that it’s all about friendship, camaraderie and party,” Millard said. “Sure, everyone was disappointed, but we still welcomed Texas fans to join us. We fed them, drank with them and even cheered with them. I feel like our tailgate is the epitome of the ones you read about.”

This past weekend’s match against Southern Miss was an early one, but that didn’t stop the party. Food was ample, alcohol was plentiful and everyone was having a good time.

These kinds of game days are the ones Millard hopes to have more of.

Millard talks about the Canadian friends he made through tailgating at a 2009 Husker game. Listen.

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