Friends and food attract fans to tailgating

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Saturday, October 18, 2008
— Outside the Green Machine waved a sea of red and white—thousands of Wisconsin Badger and Ohio State Buckeye fans tailgating Oct 4 in Lot 51 along North Mills Street just blocks away from Camp Randall Stadium.

Among those gathered near the legendary lime-colored Green Machine hours before game time were dozens of people, including family and friends of Tricia Lyons and Todd Kimball. The Janesville couple own the 1973 GMC motor home that has been to nearly every home Badger football game for 35 years. Initially it belonged to Lyons’ parents and later her brothers.

Making it popularity

The local tailgaters are among more than 30 million people who tailgate at least once a year in the United States, according to the U.S. TailGating Association’s Web site.

“Over the past decade, the art of tailgating has developed into one of the country’s favorite recreational pastimes. This celebration of a piece of America’s culture has exploded in recent years,’’ the association states.

The Saturday tailgate crowd was testimony to that.

Lyons and Kimball left home at noon and began picking up their passengers, including a designated driver, and arrived at Lot 51 by 1:30. Game time was 7 p.m.

Rock music blared out of speakers hooked up to the 6,000-watt generator of the 26-foot, front-wheel drive and fully equipped motor home. One tailgater puffed on a cigar as he sat back and soaked up some fall rays. Others stood around cocktail tables and munched on snacks. As some tailgaters left, new tailgaters arrived. The flow of people was constant.

Making it easy

The Green Machine-makes tailgating easier.

Its ample storage provides space for three folding banquet tables and four cocktail tables, which can be set up quickly just like the stackable ice buckets and paper products.

Its kitchen countertop is transformed into a makeshift bar. The refrigerator can keep food cold and freeze extra ice plus there’s a stovetop and oven available for cooking and baking.

Inside the Green Machine, Lyons checked on the sweets she set up on the kitchen table to keep the bees away. Outside Barry Badertscher stirred five gallons of jambalaya he made before checking on the 200 chicken wings he was keeping hot in an electric appliance plugged into one of motor home’s two outlets. Power strips also supplied other needed electricity.

But the favorite Green Machine amenity among tailgaters is the bathroom that Kimball keeps clean and filled with an abundant supply of toilet tissue.

Making it ahead

Planning ahead allows tailgaters to enjoy game day. After thinking about the menu on Monday, Lyons sits down with her cookbook on Wednesday and makes a list of what she needs. She shops on Thursday and bakes the night before, leaving only the appetizers to make the morning of game day.

Badertscher also does the majority of his tailgate food preparation days before the game. He marinated the chicken wings, in his secret sauce Monday and grilled them on Friday. Then he woke up early on game day to make jambalaya.

Running out of food is never a problem or a concern, they said.

“People who come with us always bring food,’’ Lyons said.

So do most others who stop by the Green Machine, Badertscher said.

Badertscher’s No. 1 tailgating tip: “Just go for fun and bring something to the party. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you don’t like to cook, bring soda or beer.’’

Kimball and Lyons coordinate who is bringing what with the eight to 12 people who travel with them.

Kimball said one of the keys to having a fun, safe tailgate party is keeping it small—around 100 people.

“We try to keep it friends and family and the drifters out,’’ he said.

Making it fun

Tailgating seems to attract people for similar reasons.

“It’s a gathering of friends, and we enjoy the Badgers. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child,’’ Lyons said.

Amy McCann of McCann Flooring, who donated three 6-by-20-foot pieces of red and black carpet to cover the cement parking lot just outside the Green Machine, said she enjoys “hanging out in nice weather with friends.”

For Badertscher, it’s his love of cooking for a bunch of people.

“I do it just for fun. It’s just my gig. Everything I do gets such a positive response that I want to do it again. I meet so many new friends,’’ he said.



-- Meat thermometer

-- Disposable plates

-- Disposable utensils

-- Disposable cups

-- Paper towels

-- Liquid soap

-- Sanitizer

-- Disposable resealable containers

-- Resealable bags

-- Bottled water

-- Ice

-- Food and drinks


-- Buy cold food last.

-- Keep raw meat separate from other items in the grocery cart, such as raw fruits and vegetables.

-- Take food home directly so perishable food is not in the temperature danger zone for too long.


Microorganisms, including those that cause food borne illness, grow rapidly between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. That range is called the temperature danger zone. When cooling or heating, food often will pass through the temperature danger zone. The key is to minimize the time foods are in the danger zone so pathogens do not have a chance to multiply.

(For more information on food safety visit: www.foodsafety.psu.edu.)


-- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Separate perishable foods into two smaller dishes—one to be served before the game and one for after; bring separate utensils for each dish.

Plan for a few or no leftovers.

Make sure leftovers can be properly cooled in a cooler; if not, discard.

-- Properly defrost meat.

Defrost in the refrigerator or on ice. If defrosting in a cooler, make sure to allow for enough time to completely thaw meat before cooking.

-- Marinate meat in a cooler or refrigerator.

Discard any remaining marinade that was used for raw meat.

When preparing marinade, reserve and refrigerate a separate portion for flavoring cooked food.

-- Do not precook meat.

Partially cooked meat prepared in a microwave, stove or oven must be grilled immediately.


-- Keep cold foods below 40 degrees.

Pack food directly from refrigerator to cooler.

Pack separate drink cooler so main food cooler is opened less and stays cooler.

Keep coolers in coolest place possible, such as in an air-conditioned car.

Bring enough ice to keep coolers below 40 degrees until food is gone or food is returned to refrigerator.

-- Keep hot foods above 140 degrees.

Use insulated carrying cases with heated inserts to transport hot dishes.

Hot foods can be placed in insulated “coolers” to maintain temperature.

-- Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate to prevent cross contamination.

If possible, keep raw meat in a separate cooler, away from ready-to-eat foods.

If not, store raw meat in leak-proof containers and under ready-to-eat foods in cooler.

Regularly drain coolers of melted ice.

-- Pack plenty of disposable plates and utensils.

-- Don’t forget supplies for cleaning.

Pack liquid soap, plenty of water and paper towels for hand washing on site.

Pack sanitizer such as disinfecting wipes or disinfecting sprays for sanitizing food-contact surfaces.


-- Cook meat thoroughly.

Make sure that meat has reached the recommended internal temperature before consuming.

Use a clean, properly calibrated thermometer to measure internal temperature.

Do not use the color of the meat to determine proper cooking; meat that has changed to a “cooked” color may not have reached the proper temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

-- Keep raw meat cold and cooked meat hot.

Remove meat from cooler immediately before placing on grill.

Cook only a portion of meat that will be consumed in two hours or less.


-- Prevent cross-contamination.

Use a clean platter for serving cooked meat because raw meat juices can contaminate cooked products.

-- Do not let food sit out for more than two hours.

Hot food can be kept hot by holding it in chafing dishes, Crock-Pots, or on a closed, lighted grill.

-- Do not let unwashed utensils sit out for longer than recommended times above.

-- Encourage hand washing.

Cooks, servers and people eating food should wash hands frequently.

—Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension

Last updated: 10:41 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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