It just might be Oklahoma State's year, folks.
American Propane, 7401 N Broadway, recently hosted our first Bedlam Tailgating Showdown, and Bart Towne of Stillwater brought home the gold on behalf of the Cowboys.
If the pigskin-tossing Pokes get half the fight Towne got from Sooner fan Daniel Kirn, then we might be looking at overtime this Saturday.
The competitors cooked their hearts out but found plenty of time to get to know each other and forge a bond that transcends the four quarters of football that will be played in Stillwater 48 hours after turkey day.
Kirn brought his handmade, full-size Sooner Schooner to the event but added a Cowboys flag to his usual myriad Sooner effects.< p>"It takes two teams to compete" is Kirn's credo. "Our tailgate isn't about hate."
Towne, who showed up with the trailer-sized smoker he made himself, walked away with a new portable Hasty-Bake grill from American Propane and $1,000 in vouchers for beef at Homeland and United stores. Kirn took home $500 in vouchers for his gallant effort.
Each left with new friends and a healthy respect for the passion each side puts into its tailgates.
Towne, a power lineman who grew up in Kingfisher but calls Stillwater home now, said, "I might've won, but those Sooners did an incredible job."
The judges concurred with the eventual champion. Kirn's skill and attitude were impossible not to notice. It would be easy for a man battling inoperable brain cancer that caused the loss of one of his eyes to have anything but a sunny disposition. Kirn competed with enough positive energy to light up a stadium. And he could cook.
"Best ham I ever ate, right there," Towne said of Kirn's signature, slow-cooked version.
But beef was the main course this evening.
Because football and beef are both Oklahoma mainstays, the contestants were tasked to create a dish using Homeland's new Red River Ranch Dry-aged Beef along with their regular tailgating fare.
The evening commenced in the cabana at American Propane. Judges included the Oklahoma Beef Council's Heather Buckmaster; Park Riddle, who brought the meat from Homeland; American Propane owner Jim Grigsby; and me.
Kirn turned the strip steaks into his tailgate's signature shish kebabs rubbed in spices, most distinctly coarse ground black pepper. He added some sliced potatoes and cauliflower. Also included at his tailgate was his signature ham and rum-soaked pineapple.
Towne grilled his strips whole, serving them on grilled baguette slices with scalloped potatoes and the green beans to end all green beans. The Kingfisher clan also had "Cowboys"-branded sausages, peanut butter cake and grilled jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.
In the end, judgment came down to the wire. If Towne's offerings scored a 10, Kirn's scored a 9.9.
In six weeks and three visits to each campus, I met an incredible procession of people. Fans disagree on color scheme and fight song, but I found a lot more similarities than differences — hospitality being the No. 1 common denominator. Passion was plentiful. Community couldn't be stronger. And there are tons and tons of cooking talent. Both Kirn and Towne displayed the overall tailgate we were looking for: great food, great spirit and an atmosphere that was fit for fans of all ages.
Each showed the devotion, precision and class during the competition that confirmed we'd made the right choices.
The surprising Cowboys are on a collision course with their first Big 12 Championship Game, and the only thing between them is the Sooners. Before that game, Boone Pickens Stadium will be surrounded by thousands of tailgaters â€” mostly in orange, but plenty in crimson and cream.
I know the Kingfisher clan has invited the Schooner to tailgate at their side on the corner of Athletic and Hester. The gang was a little reticent as they had drawn some ire in past tailgates in Stillwater, but it would be a shame if they can't make it.
I can guarantee that no matter if you're orange down to your underwear, there's no way you wouldn't be welcome and no way you'd walk away anything but impressed. You've got a championship tailgater from Stillwater by way of Kingfisher who's got their back.