Texoma Marketing and Media Group hosted the Battle of the Ax Tailgating Experience Friday for fans at the annual Battle of the Ax game between Sherman and Denison and the community at large. Fans from both sides were invited to enjoy free music, games, and activities before, after and during the game. In addition, a variety of food trucks and vendors were available.

TMMG Executive Editor Jonathan Cannon said the opportunity to provide free entertainment for families was exciting.

“I think it was a great event for the community,” Cannon said. “We were excited to be able to provide a lot of free activities and access to some food vendors that they may not have experienced before. We had a great band and a chance to see some vendors as well.”

The Battle of the Ax rivalry has been ongoing for 116 years, making it the longest running rivalry in Texas.

The first time Sherman and Denison faced off was in 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt was president.

Denison fans Ellie North and Mark North stopped by the event on their way to the game. They said the highlight for them was access to food trucks. Ellie North enjoyed catfish and Mark North had nachos from the Mardi Gras Cajun Cuisine truck.

For those without tickets to the game, a livestream was shown on two jumbotrons. Three bounce houses, train rides, mechanical bull, rock climbing wall and Ferris wheel lined Kid's Alley. While food trucks like CJ's coffee truck, Seeds Sliders, Cackle and Oink and a variety of other offerings completed the lineup on Food Truck Row.

Sherman fan Jennifer Williams said the opportunity to socialize before the game was a big draw for her family.

“We went early to support the community, talk to friends, try new food from the food trucks and of course root for the Bearcats,” Williams said. “The crowd was good but not overly crowded. I hope in the future it draws more vendors and visitors. Football games in Texas are family events. They provide time to see your friends, family and past schoolmates. Having events like this give you more time to socialize before the game.”

A stage located beneath the large screen hosted a variety of live entertainment, highlighted by a night long performance by the More Love Band featuring the Loveless Duo. The stage also hosted the Battle of the Bellies Eating Contest in which local first-responders engaged in a pizza-eating competition. With face painting, photo booth, mini-golf and a Yeti Cooler giveaway there was something for everyone.

Megan Brown's husband grew up in Sherman and her two children are currently enrolled at Sherman High School. Brown's family has season tickets and they enjoyed the opportunity to grab dinner and some coffee before the game.

“We need to do this every year,” Brown said. “It was really fun. The food was good. I love all the trucks, especially the coffee.”

The event was held in front of Kidd-Key Auditorium and the 300 and 400 blocks of North Elm Street and the 200 block of West Mulberry Street were closed for the event.

Cannon explained the event is a chance to bring the two communities of Sherman and Denison together.

“I think among the leadership — the city councils and city manager offices — they are used to working together but there's not as much mingling between the residents of the two cities,” Cannon said. “I think this was a chance for that to happen.

“The whole region is one economy. We are one community, whether we call ourselves Shermonites or Denisonians. We all rely on each other to thrive. So, I think it's important that we come together.”

Texoma Marketing and Media Group is the publisher of the Herald Democrat, Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune, Prosper Press, Best of Texoma, Lake Texoma Life, and area shoppers.