But not altogether gone, thanks to the Maskat Shrine’s Oil Bowl Classic–a long-standing tradition that brings football back, for a least a day, between seasons.  Hallelujah.

In fact, the game, headed to Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, is the longest-running high school all-star game in the country.

Like Queen Elizabeth just celebrated her 75th year of reign, it’s the diamond jubilee year for the Oil Bowl.  The first game was played in 1938.  That first Oil Bowl pitted high school football stars from East and West Texas against each other, though these days the game plays up the big Texas-Oklahoma rivalry with this bragging-rights game.  Sixty-five of the previous 74 games have seen the best players from the two states go at it, with Texas leading the series, 46-18-1.

The weekend’s festivities kick off at 7 tonight with the Oil Bowl Banquet at the Maskat Shrine Temple.  The speaker is former Southlake Carroll coach Bob Ledbetter.  The late Joe Golding, who coached Wichita Falls High School to four state championships, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the banquet.

Then the fun gets going on Saturday.

Once upon a time, the Oil Bowl Parade would wind its way downtown the morning of the game.  But instead of a parade, fans can celebrate at a tail-gate party, which will run from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Memorial Stadium.  Think free hot dogs, soft drinks, chips and water, along with the chance to meet this year’s players.  Many Oil Bowl players go on to play college football.  In fact, two players in the history of the Oil Bowl have gone on to bring home the Heisman Trophy.

Pregame festivities will start at 7 p.m. Saturday at the stadium, followed by the kickoff at 7:30 p.m.

All this football fun goes on for an important reason, of course.

The Maskat Shriners work hard to build their community and do so annually with such events as the Oil Bowl, Shrinefest and the Shrine Circus.  All these events help the organization raise funds for their charitable causes.

All profits from Saturday’s game will go to the Shriners children hospitals.  The 22 hospitals provide care with no family financial burdens to children with neuromusculoskeletal conditions, burn injuries and other special health care needs.  The hospitals also educate physicians and other health care professionals and conduct research.

By the way, stop by the Museum of North Texas History, 720 Indiana, today or Saturday to view its latest exhibit, “Building Character and Charity:  Masons & Shriners,” which includes a section dedicated to the Oil Bowl.