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The Ultimate Tailgate Party: It May be the Closest Thing to Pro Football This Year

Remember the last scene of Casablanca in which Rick and Renault come together in the end for the good of humanity then walk off into the fog contemplating "...the beginning of a beautiful friendship"? Well, that's basically what's happening between the NFL owners and players this weekend at the Glass Cactus in the Gaylord Texan Resort. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will collectively play the part of Ilsa (because everyone loves them).

Despite the ongoing labor dispute between league owners and the NFL Players Association, the two sides are calling a time-out and promise to play nice this Sunday, April 17, to raise money for the North Texas Food Bank's Food 4 Kids program.

Hosted by DeMarcus Ware, celebrity chef Kent Rathbun and former Cowboy Preston Pearson, the 7th annual Taste of the NFL: The Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party will feature more than 19 local restaurants dishing out goodies, live music by Emerald City and a silent auction with beaucoup treasures. Chefs involved in the event are Marcos Rodriguez of Bolla, Blythe Beck of Hotel Palomar, Rodman Shields of Nick & Sam's Steakhouse and TJ Lengnick of Whiskey Cake, just to name a few.

Guess what the best part is? You're all invited! Tickets are available at the door or through the North Texas Food Bank's website.

The NTFB's Food 4 Kids program provides food for youngsters who do not have consistent access to nutritious meals, a problem that afflicts one in four households locally. It supports both school and summertime programs to make sure kids are well fed year-round. Since 2004, money raised through the Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party has helped provide more than 3 million meals to North Texas children.

So, come out to dance, eat and mingle. Knock a few back, then find a crowded spot at the bar where you can talk loudly to your friends about the labor dispute and how you would solve it. Maybe the right people overhear you. Then in your moment of glory outbid everyone for a signed football. Who cares if it cleans out your savings? You're doing it for local kids. You'll be the great mediator, the loud guy at the bar that proved his point. And everyone will be friends in the end. Maybe then you and DeMarcus will walk arm and arm out the front doors pondering your future together (with a security escort). Let's do this!

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17 Where: Glass Cactus at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine What: Taste of the NFL: The Ultimate Dallas Cowboys Tailgate Party Price: $125 per person; $200 per couple. Or $150 at the door.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.