College Football

Football Fans Bring the Energy to Fair Park for Red River Showdown

With last year's canceled fair, this weekend was the first time some fans experienced the Red River Showdown during the State Fair of Texas.

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The State Fair of Texas is best known for its food, rides, games and the big man with the big hat.

But Saturday was set aside for a showdown.

Orange and crimson united under the Lone Star Flag, where everyone had something to say.

“When I say Boomer, you say Sooner!” fans chanted from a crowd gathered around Big Tex.

“Hook ‘em horns!” echoed fans from the other end.

For the first time in two years, University of Oklahoma and University of Texas fans go the full experience for their showdown at Fair Park. The game and the fair have historically gone hand-in-hand.

“It’s just a great environment out here. It’s nice to bring everybody back out, making us feel how it was a couple of years ago," UT student Adrian Rojas said.

With last year's canceled fair, this weekend was the first time fans were able to experience Fair Park in all its glory in two years.

“Honestly I’d say it’s pretty cool to see everyone together again, seeing a bunch of people support the same thing we do,” Texas student Dean Hughes said.

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“It’s so cool seeing the two different sides come together," said Grace Moye, an OU student experiencing her first-ever Red River Rivalry game. “I’m ready to scream and yell and throw 'em down!”

The Red River Rivalry brought more than 93,000 football fans to the Cotton Bowl on Saturday morning for the big game.

“It’s refreshing. Football is one of those things that just brings everyone together,” OU student Cassie Carey said.

“After COVID-19, it kind of separated everyone so this is something where everyone comes together,” Oklahoma student Coley Carson said.

The Longhorns and Sooners have a rivalry lasting 90 years. They certainly let each other know that walking into the Cotton Bowl for the game.

“I really like the school spirit and the competitiveness. I can already feel it outside of the stadium,” remarked a Texas fan.

Not everyone came out with a ticket to the game. Thousands flocked to North Texas just for the experience of being in Dallas during a moment of pride for both schools.

“People are just happy to be out and about again,” said Juan Reaves, who runs Smokey John's Barbeque in Dallas. “The weather has been phenomenal. You can just feel a sigh of relief from people who have come out and just feel happy to be amongst the crowd.”

His family business has been a long-time vendor at the state fair. Despite the mad rush to feed hungry fans, they said they welcomed the frenzy.

"Last year, we had no fair. We think that hits us and all the vendors, but that hits the city of Dallas. There are thousands of people who reserve the hotels, the stores are packed — people missed those dollars last year,” said Juan’s brother and business partner, Brent Reaves.

The economic boost to Dallas-Fort Worth is significant. The Dallas Sports Commission said the flood of fans this year will bring in more than $32 million to local businesses.

“Red River Showdown is a longstanding tradition here in Dallas, and I think this one is going to be even more important for us this year as we continue to figure out how to navigate through the pandemic,” executive director Monica Paul said. “I’ve already seen the hustle and bustle with Sooner fans here downtown as well as Longhorn fans downtown, so we’re excited for them to not only experience the State Fair and obviously have a great time at the game but also to experience our different entertainment districts here.”

Whether you're Sooner in a sea of orange or a Longhorn defending your state, it’s all about the spirit of the game and the fair.

“I’m really excited for everyone to sit together and just feel the energy again,” Carson said.

Oklahoma defeated Texas 55-48.

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