Sunday, October 7

Red River Whatchamacallit

Odometer: 8644
Location: Garland, TX

You read the internets. Surely by now, you've heard about the unfortunate events in Oklahoma City this past September. With that grisly story still fresh in my mind (and how I long for the day it becomes unfresh - it unfortunatley reminded me of this far, far worse story), I was eager to see this heated rivalry up close. Thankfully, no altercations remotely close to that particular incident went down, and the day proved fun and enlightening.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that AT+T managed to get a game already steeped in tradition and character to not only name it after their company, but also to change its moniker from the Red River Shootout to the Red River Rivalry. ‘Cause we can’t have shootouts in this day and age. Not in Texas. Won’t someone think of the children?!? I’ve had the John Wayne / Montgomery Clift movie Red River with me on the road this entire time with every intention of viewing it before October 6th. Alas, there just has not been any time for movie watching. Maybe when I get home in December, I’ll finally give it a look. I presume it has nothing to do with football, but it would have been fitting to watch it this week. I arrived at the State Fair of Texas early and roamed the parking lots. The first people I encountered was a group of political activists who were there to do the same thing I was (go around and talk to people), albeit with an entirely different purpose. This is certainly not a political site, but they were nice enough and for some reason begged me to mention their man here. I guess they’re looking for any media attention they can get, even if it’s some lonely blogger. So…. Ron Paul! For what it’s worth, I’ll give the same treatment to any candidate except Rudy Guliani or Carol Mosely Bruan. I know she’s not running again, but I figured just in case she changes her mind, I’ll be safe.
Anyway, it was very disorienting for me to see people streaming into the fair immediately after parking their cars. After six games, I’m so accustomed to the tailgate scene, I felt like everyone was lost and needed my help in directing them. Not everyone eschewed the parking lots, though. As I got out of my car, a man named Mark was setting up his grill and someone shouted to him, “What’s for breakfast?” With a grin and a chuckle, he replied, “Steak!” Later, he and his wife fed me a grilled sausage wrapped in a tortilla which I highly recommend as it was easy to manage and delicious. The weather was intermittently terrible, toeing the line between aggressive mist and heavy sprinkles. With a brief shrug, everyone kept referring to it as “Texas weather.” I don’t think I like Texas weather. It’s too hot to wear your raingear and too wet to write in your notebook. Once in the fair, I barely caught the tail end of a Red River Shootout tradition – the ceremonial banging on the opposing team’s busses. I only managed to see the Oklahoma band harassed. From what I hear, the players and coaches received a lot of yelling, banging and fingerhorns pointed skyward or earthward, depending on the affiliation of the fan. Beer was flowing as was cotton candy and all sorts of other fair treats. Families with little kids mixed with drunken college students and alumni. Every few minutes calls of “Boomer! Sooner!” or “Texas! Fight!” would erupt. Except for the time when ESPN Radio tossed around free t-shirts, everyone was well behaved. Many Oklahoma fans wore crimson tees that addressed Texas, either with “Texas” written upside down, or “Book ‘em Horns” emblazoned across the chest. I only saw two Texas shirts ripping OU. One said “Oklahomo.” The other had a picture of this kid.

Did Big Tex wet himself? Based on his shrug, it looks like he's not sure, either.

The state fair is really not my cup of tea. I definitely had a fun time there, but I can’t imagine going back to any state fair – unless of course there’s an excellent football game to be played. It was ridiculously crowded and nearly every attraction, ticket booth, and food stand had a long line. Plus, this turkey tried his darndest not to show his face to me, no matter how long I waited with my camera.
The one type of booth that had no lines whatsoever was the copious amount of corporate tents and exhibits. Everything from Jacuzzis to makeup to kitchen supplies were on display. In some of the buildings, they had demonstrations with areas set up for an audience. This photo is from “the Cooking Show.” Don’t these people seem enthralled? And of course no one wants to sit up front. Just like school. I got a face-value ticket in the Texas student section. Quite a few of the kids there had consumed way too much alcohol. They had enough trouble standing, let alone following the game. But they all stayed to the end of the game and cheered on their team. The only truly egregious problem was when they started screaming before the snap when their team was on offense. Perhaps with half the fans in the stadium rooting for the Sooners, it didn’t matter. The setup for this game is so unique. It was crucial that I get into the stadium because you get to see the clear demarcation of fan bases. It doesn’t show up perfectly in the above photo, but live it’s really quite impressive. One end of the stadium is constantly cheering while the other is silent or groaning. I think it’s a much better division than the usual format for neutral site games. That way, each team has a home and away end. I suppose if it was really windy, one team would have an advantage, but that would have to be some remarkable gale. A woman was selling powerade and had two varieties, fruit punch and orange. I asked her which one was selling better, and she said, “Oh, easily the orange.” She was of course working the Texas end of the stadium. The Cotton Bowl has a rep as being an old, rundown stadium, but I didn't find it to be so. I know they recently did some improvements, so maybe that had an impact. The only issue arose when it was time to leave, and severe, inclement Texas weather was rolling in, everyone had to leave the stadium immediately lest they be struck by lightning. The throng getting out of the stands and down the ramps was a crowded mess, but all were well-behaved.

Of course, the game was excellent. Texas nearly managed the upset, but Oklahoma made a few more of the big plays and caused the big turnovers. Because they were supposed to win, maybe everyone came out not totally disappointed, but not enthused, either. I wolfed down a Fletcher’s Corny Dog. With my remaining tickets, I had to try the deep fried cookie dough. It tasted just like you’d expect it to taste. Magnificent.

1 comment:

Kozy said...

Did you happen to catch the other big game in town that weekend (arguably THE big game)?

Conference USA Football sparkled as my 'Stangs were narrowly defeated by a fledgling UTEP squad, in a thrilling overtime extravaganza.

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