Last Updated on 08/19/2021 by Inside Tailgating
The Buffalo Bills are in the midst of a rough stretch, losing six straight games, and many of those in blowout fashion. The New York Jets whooped them 27-11. Dallas beat them 44-7. Miami crushed them 35-8. And last week, San Diego pounded Buffalo 37-10. But if you think this losing streak will prevent the Bills faithful from partying hard this weekend in preparation of the rival Dolphins, as Judas Priest would tell you, “You’ve got another thing coming.”
Being an “old school” stadium helps make tailgating at Ralph Wilson Stadium (affectionately known to locals as “The Ralph”) utterly tremendous. Fans begin their campout days in advance, and great pains are taken to decorate vehicles, buses and campers. In past seasons one could actually find a fully equipped and functional hot tub on a flatbed, with steam rising on a cold December day.
With its distant location from the city core, there really is not much to see and do around the environs of The Ralph in upscale suburban Orchard Park. There are a couple of taverns and convenience stores within walking distance, and those establishments do what they can to cater to the game day fan, but otherwise it is the vibrant and colorful tailgate scene which rules the weekend.
Fans can enjoy this pre-game activity in Lot 2 across from Ralph Wilson Stadium on Jim Kelly Blvd. (Abbott Road), which opens four hours prior to kickoff. The 97 Rock Tailgate Zone features live music, food, beverage and more. The hardcore fans congregate just up Abbott Road, a bit further from the stadium, in Hammer’s Lot, which even sells its own T-shirts that read “Armed and Hammered—Totally Cocked and Loaded.”
Wide receiver Lee Evans’ dad and dozens of friends and relatives bus in from Cleveland for most games and set up camp in Hammer’s. Ask Lee Sr. (pictured above) for a taste of his homemade “pimp juice,” and he’ll gladly oblige. (Do not, however, do what we did last year and offer him Gammel Dansk, which he claims he despises.) Even though Lee Sr.’s son plays in Baltimore, Lee Sr. still made the three-hour trip from Cleveland (where he lives) to Buffalo in late September for the Bills/Patriots game tailgate because, in his words, “Tailgating sucks in Baltimore, this is the place to be on a Sunday morning.”