Finally, after 23 months, fair-goers and football fans are gearing up for a big weekend with the opening of the Texas State Fair and the kickoff at the historic State Fair Classic featuring HBCU powerhouses, Grambling State and Prairie View A&M Universities.
The State Fair Classic has a rich history with some of the best players and coaches in college football taking to the Cotton Bowl’s gridiron annually since 1925
Saturday the Grambling Tigers and the Prairie View Panthers will once again battle for the trophy that currently resides in Texas, for the third year running, on the campus of the Panthers.
Interestingly, both coaches have worn the Grambling uniform and had the privilege of being coach by college’s winningest coach, the legendary Eddie Robinson.
Grambling head coach Coach Broderick Fobbs, whose father, Lee, also played for and coached alongside “Coach Rob,” played from 1992-96 and became head coach in December 2013.
A former offensive coordinator/ wide receivers coach at Grambling, Prairie View Coach Eric Dooley played at Grambling 1985- 88 and was named PV head coach in December 2017.
The two expressed mutual respect as they talked about the significance of the game.
With it being the first conference game for Grambling, the Tigers bring a 1-2 record onto the field, while PV boasts an overall 2-1 record with one win against Conference giant, Texas Southern University.
According to Coach Dooley, who considers Coach Fobb to be a mentor who he has learned a lot from, the game is going to be challenging.
“We’re going to face a well-coached football team,” he said. “It’s a big game because it’s the next game.”
The excitement leading up to this year’s event is great according to Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, who spoke at the annual press conference on Monday, prior to the game.
“It’s an honor to have the Game,” she said, adding that the magnitude of the energy generated for the game, as well as the commitment of the City of Dallas was important, as well as the “economic stimulus for the community and the game creates jobs.”
Admitting it has been hard because of COVID and the pandemic, Mitchell Glieber, president of the State Fair of Texas said he was appreciative of the opportunity to bring the game back along with the Fair.
“We plan to show you folks a great time, during opening weekend,” he said as he shared information about several activities. #In addition to boxing great Erroll Spence, who will be appearing as the honorary referee for the game; Black College Hall of Famer Everson Walls will be in attendance at the game and he appeared at the press conference stressing the importance of HBCUs.
Although he also played at Grambling, the Dallas native said he never played in the historic contest at the Cotton Bowl, but he realizes the game is good for the community and Black colleges.
“All HBCUs are under the same umbrella, placing education before sports,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to “Gram- bling kicking that booty!”
In preparation for the contest this weekend, Promoter Al Wash said he is optimistic about the attendance and thinks this week’s classic will be in the Top three in attendance for all HBCU Classics this year. “We’re pacing with more ticket sales than in 2019,” he said. “I think we’ll have big numbers .”
Tickets for the game are $30 and includes admission into the State Fair. Ticket locations include any Williams Chicken Restaurant.
In addition to the game, which has long been called “an experience,” there will be a Battle of the Bands, a scholarship banquets, numerous social gatherings and concerts, and the annual parade will take place on the Fair grounds, where Big Tex has said: “Wear a face covering.
Plan to bring a mask for yourself and everyone in your party with you to attend the 2021 State Fair of Texas. Wear a mask in the following settings if you are older than age 2 and medically able to wear one: Indoors, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.”
Still, however you can expect to see several organizations, businesses and gathered along the Boulevard (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) Saturday, prior to the game.
There will be cookouts, music playing and more!
As the advertisements proclaim, the State Fair Classic is more than a game!