For more than three decades, the Bills Backers of N. Kentucky & Cincinnati has brought together fans from three different states.
Based out of Barleycorn’s in Lakeside Park, Ky., about seven miles from Cincinnati, the club draws members from several border towns in Ohio, Kentucky and the far east corner of Indiana.
The group began gathering before the Bills and Bengals battled for the AFC championship in 1988, making it one of the oldest Bills Backers clubs in existence.
“We have a real family atmosphere,” said club president Michelle Vezina, an Amherst native. “If you don’t see somebody one week, you’re asking where they are.”
The club counts about 185 members and about half of them are regulars among the “Shout!” song-singing crowd at Barleycorn’s.
But the herd will grow considerably this weekend with the Bills playing in Cincinnati. Bills fans from more than a dozen states and Canada have contacted the NKY/Cincinnati club to make plans for this weekend.
Two gatherings are planned for Saturday, the first from 2 to 5 p.m. at Barleycorn’s and the second from 8 to 11 p.m. at Hofbrauhaus in the Biergarten, 200 E 3rd St., Newport, Ky. The evening event will feature a live band that is expected to perform the “Shout!” song, Vezina said.
The Sunday morning tailgate party will be held in a free parking lot under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge in Covington, Ky. Chili, wings, and Sahlen’s hot dogs with Weber’s mustard will be served, along with whatever is cooking on the hood of the famous Red Pinto. Tailgaters will be able to take a $1 shuttle ride to Paul Brown Stadium for the game.
Fans attending either the Saturday events or Sunday tailgate are asked to bring non-perishable food items or make a monetary donation to United Ministries in Erlanger, Ky. Along with their annual food drive, The Bills Backers of N. Kentucky and Cincinnati have raised money from raffles for the Ronald McDonald House, Parents with Dignity, Corneilia deLange Syndrome Foundation, and the Southside Baptist Church in Covington, Ky., where former Bills player Mark Pike’s father was a pastor, over the years.
Last year’s tailgate drew more than 200 people and the crowd is expected to be even larger this year due to nicer weather. The club has also reserved blocks of seats in sections 338 and 112 (near the visitor’s tunnel) of the stadium. Tickets are still available using the promo code BILLS.
"I think the stadium is going to be packed with Bills fans," Vezina said.
Membership: About 185
Operating since: Late-1980s
Gathering place: Barleycorn’s, 2642 Dixie Highway, Lakeside Park, Ky.
Traditions: Annual food drive and charity raffles; getting local bands to play the “Shout!” song
Jonah Bronstein is a BNblitz.com contributor. If your Bills Backers club has a unique story, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.