Caution: This vehicle stops for green and golden car shows
By Sean Schultz
Sometimes it’s not easy watching a horse’s behind over a 150-mile trek down rural roads. But Bob and Maren Retzlaff of Valley Junction, seven miles from Tomah, will stare it down again for the best part of a week in September.
“The horse is fine, but it’s a horse’s butt you’re riding with,” said Bob Retzlaff, a retired Army man who commandeers his green and gold buggy and takes the reins of his standard bred horse, Rich.
It’s tradition for Retzlaff who has gone on a mission every September since 2002, riding the country roads from home in Tomah over 150 miles to Lambeau Field in time for the season opener of the Green Bay Packers. It’s slow going at single horsepower per day. They cover just 20-30 miles per day.
Bob and Rich, and just about everybody else, are not fond of the roundabouts they encounter. Bob says Rich would just as soon go straight through a roundabout rather than make that circle, but the buggy might not be up to the challenge. And it’s the Retzlaffs’ second buggy, this one a two-seater so Bob and his wife, Maren, can head off toward football heaven in the colorful buggy she painted with many tributes to this season’s favorite son, retired quarterback and Packers Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Maren and her daughter found the new buggy and gave it to Bob for a recent birthday.
It’s big enough to hold the couple, some hay and alfalfa for Rich and a dog riding shotgun in the backseat. The one thing that won’t be on board, Bob lamented, is a pair of tickets so they can actually take in the Sept. 20 season opener.
This season they will leave home on Monday, Sept.13, and travel for the whole week. They’ll reach their destination in time for the 3rd Annual Green & Golden Car Show at noon on Saturday, September 19, the day before the Packers take on the Seattle Seahawks. The car show will be held in downtown Green Bay at the corner of Cherry and Washington streets, coincidentally adjacent to the start of the Packers’ Heritage Trail.
The car show is free to entrants and visitors with two tickets to the Seahawks game awarded to the crowd’s favorite vehicle…or perhaps horse after voting. Bob and Maren won’t say “neigh” to a win.
Show organizers Sean Schultz and Chris Wood are seeking additional vehicle entries of just about any kind, provided they are adorned with Packer green and gold. Contact Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org for entry information.
Their arrival will mark the first time a horse has ever been a show entry, but Rich will hold his own against Packer ambulances, school buses, a Packards and other cars of all makes and models.
Rich, who is around 12 years old, Bob believes, replaced Poncho, an Appaloosa that made the trip eight times before him, sometimes with Bob riding on just a saddle, other years pulling a buggy meant for one. Poncho, Bob noted, “was full of piss and vinegar.” Rich is calmer, although coming across road kill on the highway causes him angst. “He doesn’t want to step on it,” Bob noted.
The Retlaffs have two places where Rich can bunk in for the night on their long journey, including at the home of a nephew between Hobart and Seymour. His owners make sure he has plenty of carrots, apples, hay, grain and water for his journey.
As their trip appears on the horizon, Bob plans to get the buggy’s wheel bearings “lubed up,” he said, and Maren will touch up her Packer art.