Texoma Marketing and Media Group wants the public to get involved with the Battle of the Ax Sherman-Denison rivalry game by participating in the 2017 BOTA Tailgate Experience. The event is meant to unite the two cities during the community rivalry celebration and offers many free attractions that are open to the public.

There will be three bounce houses, a mechanical bull, a rock wall, kids’ alley, a green screen photo booth and face painting, all for free. Tailgaters can also watch the game live on one of two 18-by-20-foot jumbotrons.

“The game in itself is an amazing game,” TMMG Senior Group Publisher Nate Rodriguez said. “It was an amazing Friday night event even before the tailgate experience came along. I feel that this game, as the oldest football rivalry in the state of Texas, deserves bigger — it deserves more. But, more importantly, it does not have to lend itself to just the support of the home town and team. That is what is so important about this event. I want the Yellow Jacket fans to feel that they can celebrate in a place in a big way even if they do not have tickets to the game. They can celebrate the pride of Denison and the Yellow Jackets and the school district at no cost to them if they do not want to spend any money.”

The Battle of the Ax Tailgating Experience will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Nov. 10 in front of Kidd-Key Auditorium. The celebration area will cover four blocks on Mulberry and Elm streets.

“It was important for this year’s event to be free because there is such a history revolving around … this game,” Rodriguez said. “And, the history and the rivalry is the fabric of this community. As Grayson County continues to grow and the two cities continue to grow together, it is important that we remember that we will win together off of the field as well. Having a place where both teams can celebrate the history of the rivalry, the rivalry and the one team that will win the game in a safe place — having a place where families can come out and enjoy an evening with absolutely no cost — is important to us because it is what we do. We unite as a newspaper.”

A Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center health mobile will be on site providing free blood pressure tests, diabetes screenings and demonstrations. There will also be a BOTA Snapchat filter, and many area merchants will have booths where patrons can buy their wares.

“Having moved here 18 months ago and having experienced this great community, I shop as much in Denison as I do in Sherman,” Rodriguez said. “If there is something that I am looking for that is in one city or the other, I go there. I find that having been here, that is not how some members of the community feel. They try their best not to cross over those lines. For me, I do not quite understand that. By having a place to go — no matter where you are from — and have a great evening out and enjoy great food and great music and have your kids have a great time without having to spend money, speaks to the progression of our community and what will soon be considered the metroplex. It is important that we look at how we grow now.”

For those interested in other friendly competitions, the winner of the mascot contest will be announced at the Tailgate Experience, and area first-responders will participate in a pizza-eating competition during the event. Sponsors for this event will donate to the charity of each team’s choice.

“For an outsiders prospective, a tourist or someone looking to move here, they do not quite see the boundaries that we see,” Rodriguez said. “As a newspaper and a media organization, our print subscribers, our digital and social media viewership is split right down the middle with Sherman and Denison, which speaks to how the community sees their news. They feel their news is just as important as the neighboring town’s news. I feel that our industry does not see a lot of geography boundaries anymore. I want to hear about what is happening in Plano, Prosper, Gunter and McKinney. It is important to me because I go there sometimes, and I want to understand the growth of the region. I think it is important that we understand that our region in itself is growing. We need to have a unified voice.”