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A tale of tony tailgating

With gourmet food and handcrafted cocktails, it's always the best of times at Dalegate

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Hannah Dale greets friends. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Vanessa and Hans Bohlman. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Bob & Stacey Goff. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Guests enjoy the Alabama game at the Oxford tailgate party. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Hosts of the Dalegate, Kevin Pape, Susan and Jeff Wise, Carole Dale, Geoffrey and Helen Gilbert and Craig Dale. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Tailgaters enjoy beverages from cups that read "Drink Wise-ly at the Dale-gate." Photo by Jon Shapley
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Sharon Nolan and Melanie Rottler. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Colin Butschek and Shelby Dishong play bean-bag toss. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Rebekah Yurco and Jake Lavallo talk as they watch the Alabama vs. A&M game. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Jackie and Janice. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Guests converse while tailgating. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Ethan and Helen Gilbert. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Kill Gill, Craig Davis, and Helen Gilbert. Photo by Jon Shapley
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View of the tailgate parties from above. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Kate Krhovjak shows off her Ole Miss pride. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Ab Ozdil and Hannah Dale. Photo by Jon Shapley
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UT Ole Miss Dalegate in Austin 2013 3603
UT Ole Miss Dalegate in Austin 2013 3993
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UT Ole Miss Dalegate in Austin 2013 3737
UT Ole Miss Dalegate in Austin 2013 3812
UT Ole Miss Dalegate in Austin 2013 3887
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For almost two decades, seven friends have gathered along San Jacinto Boulevard, across from Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, to tailgate in epic style. Along with a few dozen friends, family and the occasional passerby, Geoffrey and Helen Gilbert, Carole and Craig Dale, Susan and Jeff Wise and Kevin Pape celebrate every single UT football home game with full amenities, including satellite television, catered meals, a full bar and, of course, a large screen for watching the game.

As the adults mingle under tents and sip drinks, kids throw a ball around, acting out their own football fantasies. The hosts can be recognized by the matching shirts they wear, monogrammed with funny nicknames and fake titles like "Head Honcho." At night, the large star light in the center of the main tent can be switched on to allow guests to finish watching the game under a dreamy glow.

Dalegate, named after Carole and Craig Dale, began 19 years ago when the fourth-generation Longhorns wanted to keep their friends connected after college ended and they began careers and having families. "It was about keeping the party going," explains Helen Gilbert. "This is our family."

Unlike most tailgates, there's a lot more than hot dogs and hamburgers here. At Dalegate, guests can look forward to everything from pad Thai to venison to a full roast pig. Thirsty? Head over to the award-winning bartender, who specializes in gourmet Bloody Marys (they brought him in as a special treat last year).

But gourmet food and fabulous cocktails aside,  Dalegate is about warmth and welcoming. Expect a Jell-o shot and a hearty handshake to greet you as walk in. Look forward to hearing stories, telling jokes — and maybe even watching a little football.

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