By Steve Lansdale
Texas vice president and athletic director Chris Del Conte appreciates the difficulty of the decision by the State Fair of Texas to cancel the 2020 Fair. But he said Tuesday that the AT&T Red River Showdown, the annual showdown between Texas and Oklahoma, is expected to be played as scheduled.
“Though we certainly respect and understand the decision of the folks in Dallas on their cancellation of this year’s State Fair of Texas, we fully anticipate that our annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma will be played in the Cotton Bowl and are continuing to prepare for that,” Del Conte said in a statement released by the Texas athletic department. “We know the decision to cancel the Fair was an extremely difficult one for everyone involved and that we all are dealing with a very fluid situation during these unprecedented times. But, as we’re doing with all of our fall season planning, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, work through contingencies and make the best possible decisions we can with the health, safety and well-being of everyone involved as our number one priority.”
Del Conte’s comments came on the heels of an announcement on the State Fair’s website
“With a heavy heart, we are announcing that the State Fair of Texas will not open for the 2020 season,” the Fair announced on its website. “We believe the spirit of the Lone Star state lies in every Texan’s ability to care and look out for their neighbor, and it is with this in mind, we have decided to keep our guests, staff and partners safe and healthy during these uncertain time [sic]. Click the button below to find out more information about this news, including refund information for those who have already purchased a ticket. We look forward to giving y’all a great big Howdy in 2021.”
Calling current circumstances “uncertain” is an understatement. New information regarding the virus and its potential effects on athletics — and on just about every other imaginable facet of people’s lives — is reported daily, if not hourly. Every time it seems like the immediate future can be predicted, and plans therefore can be made, something changes.
Watching the Longhorns and Sooners play in the Cotton Bowl every fall is much a part of football fans’ fall calendar as costumed kids arriving at the door Oct. 31 in their quest for Halloween candy. The game is much a part of the landscape of the State Fair as corndogs, oversized turkey legs, the fried foods that never should be fried and games on the midway.
All of that will be different this year. Fans will be able to park closer to the Cotton Bowl, and will not have to fight through the State Fair crowds.
Then again, further changes surely are coming. Will a plan be implemented to somehow encourage social distancing at a game that always is sold out in a stadium that seats just over 92,000 fans?
Del Conte says the plan remains for the Longhorns and Sooners to meet Oct. 10 in the 116th meeting between the programs.
Texas vs OU - photos by Don Bender / Horns Illustrated