Football is a pretty big sport in this country. In Texas—particularly Dallas—it appears to be more than a sport to some folks. It’s a reason to eat, drink and celebrate their team. For the past 25 years there has been a core group of diehard Dallas Cowboys fans who take tailgating to a whole new level.
Cy Ditmore is one of six men who started out at Texas Stadium in a parking area by Gate 6 with nothing but a bucket of chicken and a significant amount of beer. Over the years it has evolved to four men who provide food, refreshments and every bit of home team spirit that has taken them to an area at the new Cowboys Stadium parking lot that’s all but reserved for them. In fact, they are the only non-corporate group that is recognized by the Dallas Cowboys organization as official tailgate fans. Ditmore has not missed a single home game in 25 years, and in that time he’s developed his own fanbase. He has gotten to know many people over the years at these pre-game parties—including business and personal relationships with individuals in the Cowboys organization—but one mind-blowing realization came at a recent preseason game: He hugged an infant whose mother was a child that Cy had held many years before, that he had come to know via these tailgates. Their tailgate has become one big (rowdy) family.
Cy typically hosts 125-150 guests, and it is all free to those who attend (NFL rules state that a tailgate cannot charge for food/drinks; each tailgate is considered a private party). There is a tip jar, and when asked how much someone needs to contribute, Ditmore’s response is, “well, how much fun do you wanna have?” If someone approaches Cy’s group and asks to join, by all means they are welcome. Just don’t eat and run. Become part of the group and stay awhile.
Ditmore starts each Cowboys home game day early, packing up food and drinks then heading over to the stadium parking lot about five hours before game time with a 16-foot trailer. His barbecue trailer is otherwise known as “The Liza: One Hot Smokin’ Bitch,” and the party-on-wheels takes up about 25 parking spaces. The trailer is covered (the roof is on an actuator, so it can be raised and lowered) and is fully wired for electric, including an audio system and satellite flat-screen tv. The cooking area is comprised of a 16-foot smoker, a custom-made grill (with ManGrates) and a griddle.
If you are part of the party, you’d better bring an appetite, too. Cy ain’t joking around on this. He typically makes brisket, pulled pork (pork butt), chicken, brats and dogs. Occasionally he’ll offer up his specialty: baby back ribs. Other members of the group bring the typical side dishes like potato and macaroni salads. Adds Ditmore, “We do allow vegetables. But my trailer quivers when vege’s are put on the grill.” And this grillmaster has not spent Thanksgiving day gathered around the hearth at home in two decades. A recent pre-game holiday meal included 19 smoked turkeys, 9 hams, 2 briskets and 6 pork loins. All that…and then a football game to watch which is, after all, the highlight of the day for these Cowboys fans. Or is it?
In 2012, a documentary directed by Jonny Mars entitled “America’s Parking Lot” was released. This covers the last tailgate season these guys held at Texas Stadium before it was demolished. To find out more or to rent/purchase the short film, visit this link:
America’s Parking Lot
And in 2010 HGTV did a Thanksgiving segment about the tailgate, which can be found here
For more of an overview and a history of tailgating, check out my post here. It’s rather interesting.
Check out the gallery of die-hard Dallas Coyboys fans doing tailgate Texas style: