Tucked in the backyard off Melrose Avenue where you’ll find Brent Smith’s tailgate.

“We went all in,” said Smith, who’s tailgated in the same spot for about a half-dozen years. “We were invited here by a couple of friends that have been back here for a while. They kind of had this group in the corner they knew. They kind of stop here.”

It quickly became where they put down stakes on game day, but that did become a chore. But instead of simply getting a trailer for hauling, he wanted to create the complete tailgating experience.  

“It’s really a lot of work to pack the truck, unpack it at the tailgate, repack it, unpack it at home and do it all over again the next week,” Smith said. “We could do way better than that,” Smith said. “We need a TV, refrigerator, we need a bar and a bathroom.”

But Brent’s journey here wasn’t always bleeding black and gold.

“I actually graduated from UNI and we moved down here so that my wife could finish her degree at the university,” Smith said. “And then I went to paramedic school at the U and just fell in love with what it truly was to a Hawkeye on game day Saturday.”

The Cedar Rapids firefighter says he also makes sure there’s a warm seat for those working the game. It’s all to make sure they and everyone feels like part of the community on these fantastic days.

“We welcome all the first responders in the area that work the games from the police, to the ambulance worker and the fireman,” Smith said. “We’re all corn fed and we like our beer, so come on down we’re willing to share. You’ve got to experience Kinnick Stadium and the tailgates around here. It’s amazing.”

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