When you say wisconsin… you’ve said it all

Welcome to the second stop on my college tailgating tour. Last week, I brought you tailgating at Ole Miss. This past weekend, I returned to my alma mater, The University of Wisconsin in Madison,WI. I was lucky enough to spend four football seasons in this amazing place, and might be biased, but I believe game day in Madison is tough to beat. One of the unique parts of the UW’s campus is that Camp Randall (the football stadium) is on campus. It is right next to the engineering department and across the street from houses where students live. If you live on Breeze Terrace you have about a 20 step trip form your door to the stadium. That is about as close as you can get to tailgating at the stadium. I attended the September 11th game against San Jose State. Similar to the Ole Miss game in Week 1 this is not a huge in conference opponent (like Minnesota or Ohio St) so this tailgating is a milder form of Madison at its best. I am not making excuses, there is just not the thousands of visitors from the opposing team at the game. Badgers always bring their tailgating A game. This game had an 11am start time. For an 11am kickoff most people start their tailgating around 8am. I talked to some who began at 6am, which is pretty impressive. It was raining until about 8:30am, but that did not stop people from beginning their pregame festivities. If you aren’t a student and are driving to the game, parking is your biggest issue. With the stadium being on campus, there are no huge lots for you to park in. There is a deck right next to the stadium, but it is reserved for people with passes. Your best bet is to find a student selling parking. Students living near the stadium will sell you a spot on their lawns or behind their houses. Once you have parked, open up the trunk and begin your tailgating. If you decide to try and find street parking, just make sure it is legal. If it is illegal, you will get towed. Now that you are all parked it is time to let the tailgate begin. Tailgating at 9am? A Bloody Mary was the most common way I saw to start the day. This one is finished with home pickled green beans. With most of the parking happening on students lawns, the houses behind the stadium are the best places to tailgate.You will find an interesting mix between badger alums, students, and the students parents all eating drinking and just having a great time. During my swimming years in college, I would usually be in the pool until 9:30am on game days and with the Badgers usually having 11am kick off times there was not much time to tailgate before hand. I did not swim my senior year and I lived in a neighborhood walking distance to the stadium. After selling the 3 parking spots we could fit on the lawn we would fire up the grill. After being away for a few years it was good to see that nothing had changed. Beer brats dominated the grilling scene… If 9am is too early to grill, then you could get an amazing breakfast at Mickey’s.If you want to eat at Mickie’s on game day get there early, it can get incredibly crowded, but worth the wait. Grilling brats is almost always accompanied by drinking beer. Trust me, Badger fans love their beer. The most common site you will see is students having house parties before the game. As they flag down parking you will witness games of beer pong.. and flip cup You will also find Cornhole and the occasional two story beer bong.  You will never know what you will find when tailgating in the neighborhoods around Camp Randall. Here are a few of the more interesting things I saw. This bus drives around to different neighborhoods taking people form tailgate to tailgate. When I was in school, its owners lived a few houses down from us. Good to see it is still going strong. 2 fans biking to their next tailgate. With it being September 11, there was a theme of patriotism throughout the tailgates. The most common sight I saw were badger fans just having a great time and ready to watch another home victory! The dress code for a Wisconsin game could not be more different from what I saw in Oxford. If you wear red and it says anything Wisconsin related, you are good to go. Jerseys are quite common as are any shirt related to Bucky ( he is the Badger mascot). Eat Shit is in reference to a cheer the student section does. Half of the section will randomly yell out EAT SHIT! while the other half responds with a rather polite F*CK YOU! It is an experience seeing 10,000 or so people taking part in this. Jump Around is something Wisconsin is famous for. To fully experience it you have to be in the student section at the end of the 3rd quarter. Right before the start of the 4th quarter the House of Pain song “Jump Around” plays over the PA system, and for the next few minutes the entire student section ( and a large part of the stadium) starts to jump to the music. Here is video to give you an idea. It has been copied by other teams, but Jump Around in Camp Randall will always be the best. You will also find lots of people wearing red and white striped overalls. The guy with the badger hat wins my best dressed for the week. Very impressive. On people’s faces, tattoos are popular for girls, while the guys tend to go with the football stripes. Even canine badger fans sport the red and white. (Yes that dog is wearing a cheerleader outfit). As it approached game time, the area around the stadium began to fill up. Here are some before and after pictures showing the stadium 15 minutes prior to kick off compared with Friday afternoon. Wisconsin’s stadium sits on the grounds of what used to be a Union Civil War training camp. Camp Randall was the site and the stadium that now sits there bears the same name. So what do you do if you do not tailgate on a lawn, are an alumni and don’t want to tailgate with students, or don’t have a ticket to the game? Well don’t worry. There is a whole different game day experience for you. There are three large bars a few blocks over from Camp Randall that have huge outdoor parties on game day. The Stadium Bar is right across the street from Camp Randall. You can hear the cheers or boos from the game going on next door. The Stadium converts their parking lot into one giant party! Big screen TV and plenty of beer, its almost like being at the game! I ran into two of my friends and fellow Badger alums there. Thanks Sophie and Meg for sporting the awesome koozies. In addition to the Stadium bar, there is also Lucky’s and Jordan’s Big Ten Pub Whether you go before, during, or after the game, these parking lot parties are a lot of fun. As I was about to be done tailgating for the day, I came across the coolest tailgating vehicle I have ever seen. This old van has been turned into one amazing tailgating machine. Complete with a grill.. for some awesome brats or shrimp, Inside the van there is a big screen TV, two leather couches, soda and liquor dispensers.. Pretty much everything you need to tailgate in the highest of style. The coolest part of this vehicle is on the side. An automatic beer dispenser! Simply put a cup on the tray, press the red button, and about 10 seconds later you have a full frothy beer straight from the keg. This is the coolest way I have ever seen a beer dispensed and I can’t wait to see if I find anything that will top it on the rest of my tour. After 3 years away from game day in Madison, it was great to be back. Even with a little rain and an 11am kick off, the Badgers did not disappoint in their tailgating abilities. If you ever come to a tailgate in Madison, you will see why this shirt is so true.. When you say Wisconsin… The nice part of the 11am kickoff was that I was done shooting around 1 and ready to spend the rest of my weekend in Madison! It being my birthday, I had to make a trip to the Nitty Gritty for my free beer. On Sunday, I watched two of my friends do an amazing job in their first Ironman Triathlon. This weekend I am headed up to Blacksburg to see how the Virginia Tech Hokies tailgate! Next week, I will share with you what I discover there.

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  1. Jason Nettesheim says

    Fantastic job encompassing the aura that is none other than a Badger Saturday! As Chad said, it’s too bad that you couldn’t have come on Oct. 16 for the game against Ohio State, which will be the BIGGEST and BEST tailgate in the nation hands down. Regardless, quoting none other than Scott Van Pelt, “Madison, WI is the best college town in all of America!”

    Good luck with the rest of your journey this fall, Taylor

  2. says

    Nice post- Way far away from Wisconsin (150 miles from Syracuse, who I follow) but I can see that Wisconsin has great fans. The tailgating pics of sausage on the grill have me drooling- The T-Shirt pics are awesome.

  3. Jessica says


    Great summary of a true WI tailgate! It truly made me a bit homesick (been living in Charlotte, NC for the past 3 years!) I cannot believe you even found the Badger Hat guy. Priceless! It is a shame that you couldn’t make it for homecoming when the battle of the axe is ON! The only way this article could have been better is if you had attended a conference game. Crowds would have been insane! I’m trying to decide on the homecoming or the Indiana game as I always make it back once a year! I have a hard time believing that any tailgate will beat a Badger tailgate. Thanks for sharing! GO BIG RED! :)

  4. anne says

    omg – i feel like i was there and it’s been sooooooo long since i really was. i graduated in ’94. awesome pictures.

    i enjoy the badger perspective on tastespotting. go big red!!!!

  5. Trent says

    I stumbled across your blog recently and I must say, you did an excellent job of capturing the essence of Madison on a game day. Also, a good number of your pictures were taken at or around my house (the big yellow one at the corner of Lathrop and Van Hise). It is definitely quite an experience – I’m currently a Junior here, and am already regretting that I only have one more season after this to enjoy Badger games (grad school??) … keep up the good work, but I’m confident you won’t find another school that does things quite like Madtown.

  6. Sonny Red says

    My buddie from High School played QB for the Badgers in 89-90 (Sean Wilson) and I came up to see agame and IT WAS AWESOME….looks like things haven’t changed…cam ya still take a to go case of beer from the bars at closing time? GO SOONERS

  7. Kim says

    This is a little belated, but I was just introduced to your blog the other day, and I’m glad I was – I’m a soon to be senior at UW, and this is just fantastic. I’m not in Madison for the summer, but your pictures (really, all of the Madison posts) have made me “homesick” for campus, and especially football season. I’m in the marching band, so this was a nice way to enjoy a game day Saturday in Madison a few months before the season even starts :o) Looking forward to getting back to Madison’s fabulous food offerings, too. Thanks, and hope you’re able to make it back to Madison sometime soon (Nebraska game?!)! On Wisc 😀

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