Welcome to Week 5 of the Tailgate Tour. This week I am bringing you the annual battle between The University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners. This was the 105th meeting between these two teams in a rivalry that goes back to 1900. The game is played in the Cotton Bowl on the fair grounds of The State Fair of Texas in Dallas. Here is what I discovered on game day.
Now that you are familiar with the fair, I want to explain more what the DART is. The DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) is the public transportation system in Dallas. It is how I was able to get from my hotel to the fair. With parking being a nightmare at the fair on the day of the Red River Rivalry it is very common for fans to use the DART. Last year there were huge problems with delays and overcrowding issues, but this year it seems that DART fixed any issues they had and everything ran smoothly.
The Cotton Bowl seats 92,000 people, but there are just as many people if not more on the fair grounds that day not even going to the game. Everyone is wearing burnt orange or crimson. I claimed neutrality and wore Navy. Walking around with camera gear usually makes me stick out at Tailgates, but in this case wearing Navy made me look completely out of place.
It doesn’t matter if you are a TX or OU fan, if you enjoy college football, appreciate tradition and want to see one of the most bitter rivalries in sports then being at this game is a must for you at some point in your life.
With that said I will walk you through game day at Fair Park. The DART will bring you directly to the Fair. If you are going to the game then your ticket acts as admission to the fair as well. If not then it is $15 to enter. Another thing that Sean warned me about was how long the lines for coupons can be.
Sean wasn’t kidding. I talked to people who stood in these lines for 45 minutes or longer. Why would you stand there so long you ask? Well, the coupons are the currency at the fair. On game day they are literally your ticket to…..
You might be wondering, “How can you fry butter?” The same thought ran through my head. Now that I have eaten it, I have an idea of how it is done. A frozen butter ball is wrapped in dough and then deep fried. The dough cooks in the oil while the butter is turned to liquid on the inside. The result is a delicious fried outside (think like a doughnut) and a liquid butter surprise on the inside. Be careful when eating. On one bite butter exploded everywhere.
You might be wondering why all the Oklahoma fans have their hands with two fingers pointed down and the Texas Fans have the opposite. Hook’em Horns is a gesture preformed by Texas fans where they form their hand into a shape resembling a longhorn. As a sign of disrespect, Oklahoma fans turn the horns upside down.
This sea of crimson and burnt orange covered the entire fair grounds. T-shirts were not all that people would wear.
I also ran into one of the Texas Cowboys who was nice enough to let me get a picture of him.
I have no idea how many people were on the fairgrounds on game day. There were 92,000 at the game, and easily the same amount or more outside the stadium.
Well at least I did…
Here are some more shots to give you an idea of what the crowd looked like. (Notice how I don’t fit in with the navy blue).
Of course I had to get a picture of Bevo the mascot of the University of Texas.
This game was unlike any other that I have been to on my tour yet. There are several things that make this game unique. First is the location. Every year the game is held in Dallas on a neutral site. I didn’t realize this ahead of time, but Dallas is about 3 hours north of Austin and 3 hours south of Norman. One team travels North in I-35 while the other team travels South on I-35. Well over a hundred thousand people come into town for this game, so you probably want to avoid I-35 on this weekend. With both schools being the same distance away from Dallas, there was equal representation from both sides at the game. I definitely saw an even mix between crimson ans burn orange.
The second thing that makes this experience unique is that the Texas State fair is going on at the same time as the game. Not only that, but to get to the game you have to go through the game. I never made it out to the fair parking lots, so there might have been some tailgating out there, but why tailgate when you have all the fun of the fair as your tailgate! Where else can you have fried butter and corny dogs before the game? There are also games to play and rides to ride. This is not your average tailgating experience, but seeing the combination of fair and football makes this game the closest to an adult Disneyland that I can imagine.
The third thing that makes this an experience and not just a game is the passion. Texas and Oklahoma are equally some of the most passionate fans I have ever come across. They love their respective teams and go to extreme lengths to show it. I did not see any there, but I have heard of physical fights breaking out between the two sides. After the game you can only imagine the taunting that goes on from the winning side.
My final thought is that with the historic rivalry, location, and environment, the Red River Rivalry is a football experience that is truly unique. It is almost in a category of its own. Regardless of who you cheer for, it you have the chance you definitely should make the trip to the Big D and experience the game for yourself.
I have a bye week this coming weekend, but don’t worry I have a bonus tailgate for you next week!