From napkin idea to tailgate reality

Zach Hake

Sports Blogger



The Keeler family's rustic tailgate setup is the envy of many Cowboy faithful. (Zach, O'Colly)
The Keeler family’s rustic tailgate setup is the envy of many Cowboy faithful. (Zach, O’Colly)

As Barry Keeler scribbles a tailgate blueprint on a napkin, Tucker Barnard admires his ambition.

After losing a bid on eBay for a traditional tailgate by a dollar, Barry decided to take matters in to his own hands.

A year later, his rustic masterpiece was born.

Built on the back of a 1941 pug-nose Dodge flatbed pickup, the Cowboy-friendly set up is home to several families on game days.

Located only a few hundred feet down the street from the Donald W. Reynolds School of Architecture, a bright orange flag waves from atop the old-school truck.

Barry Keeler is the father-in-law of Tucker Barnard, Stillwater High School’s football coach. Keeler’s son, Brandon, has been friends with Barnard since high school. The two are brothers now and celebrate Oklahoma State football at the impressive tailgate.

Complete with retractable awnings, a fully functional bar furnished with three saddle-shaped barstools and customizable chalkboards, the tailgate caught the attention of several nearby Cowboy fans.

Students and alumni alike pulled out their phones to take a picture of the stunning set up.

“We really tried for the rustic look,” Brandon Keeler said. “We used some of the brands from the ranches around us for the floor which is made from an old barn door. Everything is pretty much hand-made. We even chipped some of the paint just to make it look nice and old.”

The Keeler family lives in Fairfax, Oklahoma, but has managed to bring its admirable tailgate to several OSU home games.

The family atmosphere is hard to miss. The nostalgic feel encapsulated friends, families and strangers.

“It really emits Cowboys and what the university represents,” Barry Keeler said. “We have hundreds of people show up every week, people we don’t even know who just come and take pictures and ask us about it.”

Missy Keeler, Brandon’s wife, greeted each new face with a welcoming smile.

“Even though we are a whole bunch of families and friends, we come together each year to make it all work,” Missy said.

Tucker Barnard and his family frequently attend the family tailgate and OSU football games. While others admire the finished product, Barnard likes to reflect on the tailgate’s humble beginnings.

“Barry literally just started scribbling on a napkin,” Barnard said. “He sketched it out, and the next thing you know, it becomes a reality. To me, that’s the coolest part.”

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