Fans watch Kentucky and Louisville play in rain

Louisville Courier Journal

Published 6:40 PM EST Nov 30, 2019

LEXINGTON — The 26th installment of the modern Governor’s Cup was soggier than fans in attendance would have hoped.

A steady onslaught of rain poured over Kroger Field on Saturday, slowing the usual rush of tailgaters. Two hours before kickoff, the area surrounding the stadium looked more like the parking lot that it is than it did an energetic scene of fans. Rain and puddles replaced impassioned fans.

Still, many eventually endured the rain to tailgate and then watch the hyped rivalry matchup between Kentucky and Louisville, which Kentucky won 45-13 in front of 48,336 spectators.

It was a morning of improvisation. Many fans spent the Thanksgiving holiday debating whether they would battle the weather, but ultimately decided they couldn’t miss the state’s premier football game. Spectators dug out rain gear, scalpers dropped prices in the lower bowl to $20 an hour before kickoff, and a group of Kentucky seniors — throwing a nerf football and tailgating despite the downpour — re-purposed a grill as a heater.

“It was for bacon and eggs, but now it’s just our heater,” one fan said as nearly a dozen gathered around the tiny grill, warming their hands prior to kickoff.

Behind the scenes: The meeting that brought the Governor's Cup rivalry back to life

It was Brett Balcirak’s idea to use the grill as a warming device, and he said there was no chance he was going to stay home for the rivalry matchup. For many in that crew, it was their final UK home game as college students, and they were determined not to let it be a wash.

“We were the first ones out here!” one boasted.

Some fans countered the weather by building a contained fire under a tent, while some sat in their cars prior to kickoff. Others said their libations were enough to stay warm. Everyone, though, was bundled up — from $5 UK ponchos sold at the game, to matching red rain jackets that a trio of Louisville fans wore.

Campbell and Dan Brewer, brothers from Louisville, are a kinship divided: Campbell is a Kentucky fan, like his father John, but Dan has always rooted for the Cardinals. It started from wanting to oppose his brother and turned into a lifelong fanhood.

They’ve watched plenty of rivalry matchups together.

“My brother and I are not tame when it comes to the game,” said Dan, sporting a Lamar Jackson jersey.

They bickered even before the game. Unsurprisingly, a previous Governor’s Cup came up as the conversation turned to whether Jackson, a former Louisville quarterback, should be enshrined with a statue.

“What if they built a fumble statue?” Campbell said, referencing Jackson’s (in)famous mishap against Kentucky in 2016.

“How about a Heisman statue?” Dan countered.

More: A race horse? A long rifle? How the Governor's Cup trophy came to be

That arguing no doubt continued throughout the soggy day, as did the rain. But so did the day’s activities.

Kentucky’s Senior Day festivities were damper than anticipated, as was the game, but both carried on. And although some fans stayed home, thousands of brave, poncho-clinging souls took in the state’s most exciting football game of the year; dampened, but not derailed.

Hayes Gardner can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter: @HayesGardner; Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.

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