It is upon us: Fair season. Thirty days of fried food, weird crafts, blue-ribbon jams and petting zoos. The people watching, square dancing and pig racing are in full bloom in Fair Park, but as we hit October, Dallas will also prep for two of the biggest college football weekends our little village hosts throughout the year. I know some of you avoid these things like the plague, but with a little planning, the circus can be an awfully memorable place to find yourself.
On October 6, the fairgrounds will ready for the 2012 Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic, where the football teams of Grambling State and Prairie View A&M University will compete, but the real battle is the half-time Battle of the Bands. The following weekend, October 13, will welcome the Red River Shootout and that beloved Texas-OU rivalry between the Longhorns and the Sooners.
The Overserved is here to help you navigate the crowds, the shit-talking and the afterparties.
See also: - Your music guide to the State Fair of Texas
Fair Park is actually well equipped to handle these game-day crowds, so avoiding the fair isn't necessary. But avoiding the parking lot is - that's the real zoo. This is a good weekend to take advantage of the DART, or better yet, a cab.
Those of you with tickets already have your fair admission covered, and you'll want a stadium view of the half-time show. The pomp and circumstance of the marching band's parade into the Cotton Bowl is worth your time if you forget to cop that ticket.
If you really want to make a day of it on October 6, you can start in the morning at the Williams Chicken High School Battle of the Bands at Tiger Stadium in Lancaster. Once you hit Fair Park, an official AT&T sponsored tailgate will be outside the grounds, but wandering around the parking lot and making new friends is the best way to crash these parties. Make it to the Chevy Stage inside by 3p.m. for the Rebirth Brass Band pre-game concert and, more importantly, the official band parade into the Cotton Bowl following the concert.
The Classic offers the most official afterparties. K104 is hosting Dallas, Houston and Louisiana DJs at the Dallas Convention Center, South Dallas' Bellagio promises an "old school" evening for the grown folks and downtown's new SYNN Lounge is getting in the mix and bringing Grey Goose. And don't even play: The Slip Inn will be unofficially crazy that night.
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October 13's Red River Shootout is a bit more sprawling, with fewer "official" parties, yet more unofficial trouble to get into. For the real deal in Tailgating 101, you will want to cab it to the Fair Park parking lot by 11a.m., so you can make kick-off.
This game has sold out every year since 1941, so if you missed the bus on the ticket, don't worry; there is an official screen to view the game from within the grounds. But if you think some of those parking lot parties don't have TVs set up, you're wrong.
Up and down McKinney Avenue, collegiate flags will help you figure out where to go before, during and after games. Afterparties at hotels like Aloft, and the W Hotel make it easy for out of town guests. And this is the one weekend where I suggest you go to Uptown if you really want to be in the middle of it all. Cab it, walk it, observe it, but don't forget those pre-game tailgates, either. Plenty of them will set right back up after the game.
And more than anything, sugars: This is just a game. So play nice.