Thirty-five years of Husker football tailgating
Story and audio by Anthony Ainslie, NewsNetNebraska
One of the many tailgates a person could find on Husker game day can be found just to the north of Memorial Stadium where Greg Kuhnel sets up every home game.
The Shelby, Nebraska native continues his 35-plus year tradition of showing Husker spirit with friends and family in the parking lot 5 between Avery Avenue and Salt Creek Roadway.
Kuhnel has been tailgating at Husker games since 1980 and has seen many players and teams from all over the United States come to the games. He used to tailgate on the northwest side of the stadium and watched the visiting team and fans go into the stadium, but they relocated to lot five about 15 years ago.
Kuhnel said all fans are welcome at his tailgate, regardless of what team they cheer for. To him, it’s all about making friends and having a good time.
One of the regular attendees is Elaine Thomasevicz of Omaha. She said she has known many of the other tailgaters during high school, and she enjoys the friendly atmosphere. That is what has brought her back to every home game for the past six years.
Michael Loeffler is a very seasoned veteran of tailgating, especially at Kuhnel’s. The man known to the tailgaters as “Lefty” has been coming to Kuhnel’s tailgate for over 25 years, and he has brought many kinds of food items over the years. His favorite food to bring is build-your-own enchiladas, but for the Illinois game, he brought racks of ribs.
Loeffler said he enjoys the closeness of all the participants who come to every game, and he recommends any fans of other teams to stop by and enjoy the atmosphere.
With Illinois coming in to play the Huskers, some of Kuhnel’s family came from Illinois to the tailgate. Also, Kuhnel’s sisters, including Chris Edmonds, traveled from Manhattan Beach, California for the tailgate. “There’s just something about this environment that just makes you want to come back to it,” Edmonds said. Her husband John said he really appreciate the kindness many Husker fans display.
“It’s almost a competition to see who can say hi to the most visiting fans,” John said.
Tailgating around Memorial Stadium is one of the most popular aspects of Nebraska football, and Kuhnel has been providing a base for Husker and visiting fans to come together, share experiences, eat amazing food, root for their favorite teams, and make incredible memories.