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Favre hometown is place to be in advance of Super Bowl

January 24, 1997

KILN, Miss. (AP) _ After an 18-hour, non-stop drive from Stratford, Wis., a tired, but giddy Teena Leonhardt was swilling beer in a redneck roadhouse in backwoods Mississippi.

It was, for her, like heaven.

Leonhardt and her husband, John, were among hundreds of Green Bay fans swarming this tiny lumber town Thursday for a glimpse of anything connected to hometown hero and Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

``We had to check out Brett’s hometown,″ Mrs. Leonhardt said. ``It’s neat.″

The Leonhardts stopped in Kiln _ pronounced Kill and called The Kiln by locals _ on their way to New Orleans, where the Packers are in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1968, the year before Favre was born.

They paid $1,500 for tickets on the 30-yard line and turned down an offer of $3,250 for them.

``You can’t do it,″ John Leonhardt said. ``You can’t sell them.″

Leonhardt is a self-described Packers fanatic. He said his wife, who wore a cheese hat over her long blonde hair, is ``mental″ about the team and its two-time NFL MVP quarterback.

Hundreds of others _ fans and media _ stopped too, as the national spotlight turned on the town of 1,200, where Favre played quarterback for Hancock North Central High School before going to Southern Mississippi.

``It’s a neat little town. They’re as big fans as we are,″ said Dean Noskowiak, of Antigo, Wis., who drove into town with four friends.

The curious, mirthful tourists lined up for po boys and catfish at Rooster’s Restaurant. They bought ``southern Packer backer″ T-shirts and other souvenirs at Kiln Supermarket. And they gulped down a load of beer at the Broke Spoke, a ``biker-turned-sports bar″ with a muddy gravel parking lot, a plywood floor and decorations of beer signs, flags, T-shirts and women’s underwear.

``We haven’t closed since Tuesday,″ said Stevie Haas, who has owned the Broke Spoke for 12 years and usually opens at 2 p.m.

``They’ve been steadily coming in. They just want to see the town where Brett Favre was raised.″

The Broke Spoke started as a biker bar, but Haas, a tall, bearded biker type, has added two 27-inch televisions with sound piped through stereo speakers hung over a wood-burning stove. On Sundays, he shows Packers games.

Outside, Steve Townsend of nearby Long Beach stood in the mud, selling tapes of himself singing ``Brett’s Quest: Super Bowl Bound,″ a ditty he wrote three years ago.

``I’ve been writing songs for 30 years,″ said Townsend, 45, who calls himself Stevie T. ``This is the closest I’ve ever come to ever having anything successful.″

The tapes weren’t going fast, but Townsend said they were selling steadily at $5 each.

``Everybody is here for a good time,″ said Peggy Ladner, owner of the Kiln Supermarket. ``Crazy is a good way to describe it. But it’s exciting because we’re a small town.″

She said many Green Bay fans knew about Kiln before the Packers won the NFC championship because Favre frequently talks about the community in which he grew up and his father once coached high school football.

``It’s wild. I love it,″ said Allen Holder of Long Beach, who drove back to his hometown to witness the revelry. ``It’s good for the town.″

Dick Anderson and Ed Kuester of Eau Claire, Wis., flew into Jackson, about 140 miles to the north, and detoured to Kiln on the drive to New Orleans.

They bought souvenirs and found their way to the Broke Spoke.

``I thought maybe the town would be a little bigger,″ Anderson said, not sounding too disappointed. ``There isn’t much here.″

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