Working with the Daily Norseman's Facebook page I've had a lot of interesting interactions with Minnesota Vikings fans. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how international our readers are becoming, with 1,049 of our 9,822 Facebook likes coming from readers outside of the U.S.. But our American readers are also a diverse group, with two of the top four cities our readers hail from being outside of Minnesota--here's to you Sioux Falls, SD and Fargo, ND.
Occasionally, our DN readers like to share some of their Vikings experience with us, like Kent Johnson did. A resident of Nebraska, this Vikings fan's backyard project just begged to be shared.
As you can imagine, a picture like that makes a person curioius, so I chatted with Kent about his yard art and being a Vikings fan in Nebraska.
SG: That is some impressive dedication to the Vikings in the land of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
KJ: Yeah. To stand out here, you need to go crazy big.
SG: How long did it take for you to do that?
KJ: Well this year the kids weren't home so it only took six hours and one trip to Lowe's.
SG: How many years have you been turning your yard into a Vikings field?
KJ: I think this is my fifth or sixth year.
SG: This kind of a backyard display begs for some background. How did you become a Vikings fan?
KJ: Lived in Minnesota, Detroit Lakes area, until I finished college, Brainerd. So I was born into the Vikings family.
SG: How'd you end up living in Nebraska? Have you lived there long?
KJ: My brother moved to Nebraska in 91 and was the reason I moved here in 97. He knew the people that I originally came down here to work for.
SG: What has it been like for you to be a Vikings fan in the land of Big Red?
KJ: When I grew up in Minnesota I was just a fan of the Vikings. Moving to Nebraska changed that. I never knew that people could be so into football that they would talk about it year round and or that it was a conversation starter in May. This quickly either makes you love the huskers or hate the huskers. I chose the later. And since the gophers were really bad at the time and I didn't feel like wearing their colors, I started following the Vikings more and more. I started to find that when I would wear Vikings gear I would meet more fans of the Vikings. It seems like everywhere I worked I would find a fellow Viking fan/ Husker hater. I had a boss that, at the time, was a season ticket holder and would drive from Omaha to every home game. She was my enabler. She gave me some old Vikings stuff and would bring me back things from the games. That was around the time of Carter and Moss so it was easy to start going fanatic at that time.
SG: How did you get the idea to start creating a Vikings field in your backyard?
KJ: I worked at a camp growing up that had a soccer field we had to paint and ever since then I think it had always been in the back of my mind. I finally one year just painted out a simple field with just white upside down spray paint. The kids thought it was cool, but the seed was planted that this could be really cool.
SG: Your vision for your backyard football field has certainly grown. Do you do anything else that's a little extreme in your Vikings fanaticism?
KJ: Whoa whoa, when did painting a football field in your backyard become extreme?? Haha. We usually have two Christmas trees, one upstairs that my wife decorates and then a Vikings one in the man cave. I am very easy going but, what I see more often than not, in typical packer behavior I had one former neighbor give me a packer football one year and I proceeded to paint it Viking's colors and thanked him for the Greg Jennings football.
SG: That's awesome. Do you have any new Vikings projects in the works?
KJ: Who knows. I need to do the goal posts and possibly benches. Any idea what the situation is with the old Meteodome scoreboard??
My thanks to Kent Johnson for chatting with me and sharing his cool backyard.