Packer buggy goes to Lambeau
Family continues annual tradition
By James Card
Every year at the start of football season, a horse and buggy passes through Weyauwega, Fremont and New London.
The buggy is green and gold and the hand-painted lettering reads: Lambeau or Bust. Go Pack Go. In loving memory of Packer Bob.
Bob is the guy who started this pilgrimage to Lambeau Field for the first home game of the season.
Bob Retzlaff served in the military most of his life, fighting in Vietnam and the Gulf War.
When he settled back down in Wisconsin, he decided to ride a horse to Lambeau Field. That was 21 years ago.
The next year he used a two-person buggy.
For his 60th birthday, his wife got him an upgrade to a four-person buggy. It was painted in red, white and blue. Despite his patriotism, that wouldn’t work for this kind of mission and he repainted it in Packer colors – although an American flag is mounted on the backside of the buggy—along with a Packer flag.
Retzlaff died in 2018.
“Bob was going to get every moment of life in, and that’s one of the lessons of this whole thing,” said Jeremy Griesbach, referring to Bob’s last trip when he was battling cancer. Bob out-partied everyone on that ride.
Keeping the tradition alive
Griesbach and his cousin Kolt Retzlaff, nephews of Bob, are keeping the tradition alive but it hasn’t been easy.
“Uncle Bob always said there are peaks and valleys in life and I was going through a valley for the last couple days thinking the trip was going to end. But hopefully it ends with some peaks over the next three or four days,” said Kolt.
At the start of their journey this year, their horse, Bud, caught a nail in the shoe and injured his hoof. Bud, a quarter horse, had accompanied them to Lambeau for the past three years.
After some calls to the vet, they decided Bud had to sit this one out.
At the same time, a family friend found a swayback American saddlebred gelding in a kill pen – the place where horses are kept before getting shipped to the slaughterhouse. His name was Copper.
At the Angler’s Bar and Grill in Fremont, Jeremy and his wife Annie got Copper hitched up to the buggy. They started near Tomah, and passed through Necedah, Petenwell, Big Flats, Bancroft, Plainfield and Almond.
They were ready to go for the next stretch and the buggy was decked out with everything they needed: a car stereo powered by a car battery, water jugs and buckets for the horse, a manure shovel, Packer blankets and a beer cooler.
But Copper didn’t want to go. Stubborn and stiff-legged, he only moved a few steps and stopped. Kolt coaxed him with a giddy up of the reins. Annie tried to pull him forward with a lead. Everyone chanted: “C’mon, Copper, c’mon.”
After some flustered starts and stops, they made it onto Highway H. Copper took a few steps and the buggy lurched forward on the open road. Copper broke into an easy-going trot and the stubbornness vanished. A car drove by, somebody waved.
It’s a 160-mile trip, with eight riding days spaced over two weeks. The goal is to get in 20 miles per day.
Once over the county line, their route goes from Shiocton, Black Creek, Seymour, Oneida, and Green Bay. Their plan is to make a break for Lambeau on Monday morning to beat the flood of fan traffic before the evening Packer game against the Detroit Lions.