Two cultures divided by a river

Graphic by Karl Enghofer

Graphic by Karl Enghofer

Since the dawn of time, there’s been tension between Wisconsinites and Minnesotans. East of the Mississippi lies vast forests and farmland. West of the Mississippi lies, well, the same thing.

While we share a border, we don’t share the same ways of life.

A Sconnie’s soda is a Sotan’s pop, while a bubbler is a water fountain. To an outsider, these minute details may seem mundane, but which do you play with and which do you drink from? — a dilemma that could cause societal judgement if mixed up.

Jimmy Arnold, a senior at UW-Eau Claire has drank from bubblers his whole life, if you know what I mean. He said he’s proud of the Wisconsin lifestyle, which at heart means grill-outs, beer, brats and tailgating. Tailgating especially separates Sonnie’s from Sotans, he said.

“We tailgate while Sotans go straight from their car to their stadium seats to see the Vikings lose,” Arnold said.

To clarify for Minnesotans, tailgating means arriving at a sporting event hours early, grilling up some brats or burgers and playing yard games like “bags” with friends or even absolute strangers. Because they share common love for their team, those strangers soon become close comrades.

NFL Commentator Mike Torico said Packer fans were tailgating as early as 7 a.m. for the 7:30 p.m. start at Monday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

As a fellow bubbler-drinker, I have to say that Sotans are missing out. I’ve gone to Brewers games and not even gone inside. Good friends, good tunes, good food and a radio to hear the play-by-play can be just as fun.

In 2010, the Minnesota Twins received a new stadium, Target Field, costing more than $500 million. The field has a gorgeous view of the Minneapolis skyline; however, tailgating is prohibited because there is no surface parking at the stadium, only parking structures. What a waste!

Tailgating is a Wisconsin sports tradition. We don’t expect you to bring a grill to a hockey rink, Minnesota.

The rivalry between the Packers and the Vikings is one of the ugliest in NFL history. It can be the deal breaker in a budding romance, an excuse for a late assignment Tuesday morning after a Monday night matchup and for a Packer fan, it makes it very easy to win some money.

In the grand scheme of things though, Sconnies and Sotans aren’t so different.

We both know what walking to school in 20-below temperatures feels like, we agree 15 inches of snow overnight isn’t strange and we’ve both dusted off a rosary to pray for a snow day, when in the back of our minds we know it won’t come.

The reality is, whether you’re used to slingin’ beers, or slingin’ hockey pucks, a Blugold can do both.

According to the office of institutional research, 21 percent of Eau Claire students are Minnesota residents.

We share this beautiful campus, and while Wisconsin outnumbers Minnesota, I say be a faithful Blugold and hug a Sotan every chance you get. Because even though we have more lakes in Wisconsin than their state slogan proudly represents, let them have that honor — chances are the Vikings lost Sunday.