Thursday, October 6, 2011 , Updated 2:18 p.m., October 7, 2011
UPDATED: Best bets for celebrating Texas/OU weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth
It's a marathon, not a sprint.
An 11 a.m. football game is like having class in college at 8 a.m. on a Friday. It's early. You might be hungover. But (most of the time) you make it. For Saturday's Red River Rivalry game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, it might be a struggle to get your friends, barbecue pits, and rolling coolers to the parking lot in time to tailgate and get into the game. Your best bet is to start celebrating early – a good 24 hours before kickoff.
Noon: When you think of football, you don't usually also think of show choir, but that's what you'll get if you go to the Galleria Dallas. Show choirs from UT and OU will perform free concerts to get the day kicked off.
5-10 p.m.: Your best bet Friday early evening is the Red River BBQ Shootout at Main Street Garden. Pitmasters will compete for best barbecue dish, and the two winners – one from Texas, one from Oklahoma – will cook his or her winning food at the event on Friday night. The participating venues are:
- Elmer's (Tulsa, Okla.)
- Leo's BBQ (Oklahoma City)
- Van's Pig Stand (Shawnee, Okla.)
Smokin' Joe's Rib Ranch and TV Park (Davis, Okla.)
[UPDATE: The barbecue restaurants that won on Thursday and will be competing on Friday night are Cousin's from Texas and Leo's BBQ from Oklahoma. Read more here.]
Late night: Friday night of Texas/OU weekend is thrilling because no one's lost the game yet. Most bars in Dallas or Fort Worth will be plenty fun; we recommend bars in Uptown Dallas or on Greenville Avenue to be near the action. Denton has also declared itself “OU headquarters,” with hotel rates 50% lower than those in Dallas and some bar specials, says Kim Phillips, vice president of Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Getting to the game: See our transportation guide below.
10 a.m.: A more intimate setting to watch the Texas/OU game is at Texas Theatre or at the Granada Theater. Texas Theatre says Oklahoma fans are “especially” welcome and it's free to get in. The Granada's party is $21.65 per person but includes fajitas. Neither of these events are for your early-morning drinkers, however, as they open an hour or so before game time.
If you want to brave a bar to watch the game, your most packed venues will be Frankie's Sports Bar in Uptown Dallas and probably the McKinney Avenue Tavern, which is selling tables like a club. The official Dallas Texas Exes watch party is at Knox Street Pub in Dallas. The official Oklahoma alumni watch party is at Three Sheets in Dallas.
After the game: Bars anywhere will be mobbed after the game, so your best bet is to hang around at the State Fair of Texas or grab a bite to eat. Come Saturday late afternoon/evening, bars will be populated by the winning team's fans but probably less packed than a few hours earlier.
Transportation to and from Dallas
Construction projects on I-35 between Austin and Oklahoma City will be halted during Texas/OU weekend. Traffic will still be heavy, however.
Parking in DART parking lots is currently free, so drivers can stop at a station and ride into Dallas instead of trying to park on fair grounds. If you're taking public transportation, some DART locations open at 6:30 a.m. on game day, others open at 7 a.m.; all now accept credit cards at machines. A DART day pass is $4 and a TRE day pass is $10.
The fair opens at 7 a.m. Saturday, and anyone driving into the area or taking public transportation will want to pad their schedules for potential traffic. Last year, DART trains filled up three hours before kickoff in some instances, a DART spokesman said.
A shuttle in Denton -- strictly for people staying in a Denton hotel -- will drop off at the Trinity Mills Station on the DART Green Line on Saturday morning. (The A-Train service doesn't start until 11:30 a.m. You can ride the A-Train later in the day.) Once at Trinity Mills Station, ride the DART Green Line south to the Fair Park grounds. A schedule says the trip will take 53 minutes, and a spokesperson from DART says that they don't anticipate much of a delay on that route. It drops off at the MLK, Jr., exit if you're going to the Cotton Bowl or the fair.
Those coming in on the Red Line will also stop at the MLK, Jr., exit for the Cotton Bowl or the fair. DART has a special system set up for increased traffic on Texas/OU weekend. See a map of all the DART lines here, and see the special game day service map here. Text DARTTXOU to 41411 for updates.
The TRE from Fort Worth runs every 30 minutes from 7:17 a.m. to 10:47 a.m. on Saturday. Those going to the game will want to get on the 8:47 a.m. train to make kickoff.
There are lots of other Texas/OU weekend events in the area. Please tell us in the comments section below if you're going to an event we should know about.