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" Thank God For Weekends"
Texas A&M Chilifest and Pecan Lakes Golf Course
March 31, 2006
If you like bar hopping with a lot of Aggies, some really good country music, and enjoy hanging out with 30,000 rather inebriated A&M and other college students than College Station and the Texas A&M Chilifest is where you need to be next year.
We tried to beat the Friday traffic out of Dallas with no luck (I don’t think you can ever beat the traffic out of Dallas) as we headed down to College Station for dinner at the Chicken Oil Company. Chicken Oil Company opened as a gas station and burger stop in 1977 and its truly unique atmosphere speaks for itself. It is known for its death burger, great chicken fried steak sandwiches on Texas toast, Texas toothpicks (battered onions & jalapenos), and Tijuana fries. We rate it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
After dinner we stopped by La Bodega for their watermelon martinis. It’s a tiny little taco bar but they had a live band and they’re within walking distance to our final watering holes at Northgate.
Northgate is a strip of bars, restaurants, bookstores and is a Texas A&M tradition “where friends are as plentiful as beer, where dominoes and pool are considered a REAL sport, where classic country music never dies, and where carving your name in the tables and walls is expected."
The first stop was the Dixie Chicken, which is where every Aggie goes to dunk their ring, play pool or dominoes, and have a good time. It is filled with down home people, has a great back porch, a very laid back atmosphere, and is a true Texas A&M staple. Dixie Chicken is “known to sell more beer per square foot than any other establishment in the world”.
We also took in Fitzwilly’s that has darts, pool, shuffleboard, a very laid-back crowd, and live music on their large back porch. Finally ended the evening at Midnight Rodeo for some great people watching and boot scooting on their large dance floor.
To get to the annual Texas A&M Chilifest head through Snook and follow all the rest of the cars. For a mere $100, you can dry camp (good for Thursday through Sunday) in a large field (watch out for the fire ants and cow piles) right across from the Chilifest. If you are not camping, make sure that you have a designated driver and the cops are plentiful.
If you are not a participant you can’t get into the Chilifest on Friday evening – but you can hear the bands and the crowds from the RV parking lot. In fact, you’ll hear them all night and all morning long! Friday night Cooder Graw and Wade Bowen entertained the Chili Cook-off teams and 10,000 of their closest friends. As I understand it, if you know a Chili team, they can sell you a ticket for $40, which includes Friday’s and Saturday’s entrance fees. On Friday night you can also bring in your own alcohol – which means the Chili teams bring in thousands of cases of beer and proceed to consume it all during the rest of the weekend.
Saturday’s music starts around 11:00 and the place is rolling by 11:30. This year’s music was Cross Canadian Ragweed, Aaron Watson, Randy Rogers Band, and best of all, Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen – doesn't get much better than that. All of the bands were great and Robert Earl was outstanding! This was our third time at Texas A&M Chilifest and the music lineup has always been excellent. Be prepared to get to know your neighbor – you will be packed shoulder-to-shoulder with at least 30,000 other fans.
Beer is $3 a can – so make friends with some Chili teams and drink theirs or get a Friday ticket and take your own beer in. You can bring your own food in because it is very limited once you’re inside. Wing’s & More sells wings, corny dogs, and a chicken sandwich – if you ask, most of the Chili teams will be happy to give you a taste of their cooking. I don’t think too many of the cook-off teams are there to win awards – if fact, one t-shirt said “Screw the Chili, We’re Here to Drink’ and drink they did. During music breaks, stroll back to the chili cook-off area and take in the sites --it looks like there was a very heavy beer can hail storm! On Sunday, the cleanup guy told us it takes over 3 weeks to clean up and they make more than $3500 in recycled beer cans!
This is not a kid friendly event. Although the crowd is very young and pretty rowdy, they are extremely friendly, there to have a good time, and were very respectful of this old geezer. Chilifest is a fun and the music is great -- we rated it 2.5 out of 5 stars due to large crowds, limited camping, high cost of beer, and limited food. .