This story has been updated with new details.
There's nothing quite like a football Classic -- note the capital "C." Except perhaps the next one.
There's one in Dallas that some people anticipate far more than any other football game: the State Fair Classic, also known as Grambling State University vs. Prairie View A&M University, also known as the Tiger Band vs. the Marching Storm. And this year, there's a new one: the State Fair Showdown featuring Texas Southern University vs. Southern University.
The tradition of Classics, which dates back to 1924 and is almost exclusively a province of historically black colleges and universities, offers more than football for those paying attention. It's a celebration of higher education, designed to delight and entice, and spur hopes and dreams.
And, while it helps to be alumni, it's hardly a requirement. The sense of community is palpable, with attendance from the surrounding community, alumni, fans and other HBCU alumni. It's a social gathering. Respect.
The games can be found all over because graduates of these schools are flung far and wide; for some, a Classic near them is the closest taste of their college life. The Chicago Football Classic featured opponents nowhere near home: Miles College (Alabama) vs. Morehouse College (Georgia). There are websites devoted to the subject. The grandmother of them all, the Turkey Day Classic, will pit Alabama State University vs. Mississippi Valley State on Thanksgiving Day at ASU Hornets Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.
This is a big deal.
Here are some fast facts:
When and where
Grand games deserve a storied venue.
The State Fair Classic is Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Fair Park, 3750 Cotton Bowl Circle, Dallas. Game tickets include entrance to the State Fair and the pre- and post-game concert. Tickets cost $28 online and $34 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster or locations as diverse as Williams Chicken locations and Friendship West Baptist Church.
The State Fair Showdown will be on Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Cotton Bowl. Game tickets also include entrance to the State Fair. Tickets range from $25-$75.
What's in a game?
More than you expect.
Sept. 28: The Radio One Celebrity Golf Classic, with Joe Torre and Bruh
Sept. 29: The Grambling Metro DFW Chapter Alumni will hold the Williams Chicken Battle of the Bands and Dance Showcase at Beverly D. Humphrey "Tiger" Stadium (200 E. Wintergreen Road, Lancaster) on game day at 8 a.m. The pre-game concert featuring Sevyn Streeter will start on the Chevy Main Stage inside the fairgrounds at 2 p.m. The post-game concert will feature Morris Day and the Time at 8:30.
Oct. 18: The free-to-attend Dallas County Promise College Fair will start at 8:30 a.m. at Cedar Valley College, 3030 N. Dallas Ave., Lancaster.
Oct. 19: The State Fair Football Showdown 2018 Battle of the Bands will be Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at John Kincaide Stadium (9100 Polk St., Dallas). Tickets are $15. Southern University will also have a fundraiser called "Overtime With Athletic Director Roman Banks" at 7 p.m. at Eddie Deen's Ranch (944 S. Lamar St., Dallas).
The bands will battle
HBCU bands are know for high-stepping, pageantry and turning the stands into a dance party. There's a lot of history here: All the bands featured in the two Classics this year form longtime rivalries.
The Grambling Tiger Band has been featured in movies and commercials, including a famous one for Coke and a kinda, almost funny one for Tampax. And the Marching Storm of Prairie View A&M lives up to its name, consistently in the Final 8 for the Honda Battle of the Bands, held in Atlanta every year. Get to the State Fair Classic early to see the winners of the Battle of the Bands perform and be prepared to stay late for the famous "5th Quarter."
And then there are the bands in the State Fair Showdown, which is appropriately named. Southern Jaguars, with its Human Jukebox and Dancing Dolls, will blow against Texas Southern Tigers and its Ocean of Soul and dancers called "Motion of the Ocean." The game may be called "The Battle of the Cats," but the bands take the W with their names.
Of course, there are other great bands, but this collection includes some of the most storied.
A star (or two) will appear
Last year's special guests for the State Fair Classic included Grambling grad and new Dallas Police Department Chief U. Renee Hall and gospel singer Darian Yancey. Lil Jon performed during halftime of the 2010 State Fair Classic. And there's no telling who will show up at any one of the after-parties. The official after party for the State Fair Showdown will be Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. at The Door (2513 Main St., Dallas).
You will want to go back
The "5th Quarter," in which bands play at each other, is one reason. The good vibrations are another. The pageantry and the artistry on display are another. And if you're looking for high-flying football -- there were more than 100 points scored in 2015, 52 in 2016 and 55 in 2017 -- you got it.
Who won? For the record, Grambling (all three times). For the event? Everyone.