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Dallas Businessman Pete Schenkel to Receive Honor from NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter
Former State Fair of Texas Chairman will be presented with the chapter’s 2017 Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award on April 2.
Published: 3/21/2017 11:00:00 AM

IRVING, Texas (March 21, 2017) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter announced today that successful Dallas businessman and former State Fair of Texas Chairman Pete Schenkel will receive the chapter’s 2017 Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award. Schenkel will accept the honor during the chapter’s Ninth Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 2, at 6 p.m. CT at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria.

“Pete Schenkel’s impact on football in North Texas can be felt every October at the State Fair of Texas,” said Gerald Brence, president of the NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter and athletics director for the Plano Independent School District. “He fought to keep the annual Texas-Oklahoma rivalry game at Cotton Bowl Stadium and has been the key negotiator in keeping the game there ever since. The prestige and financial impact the game brings to North Texas has been huge, and his role makes him truly deserving of this award.”

The Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award is presented to an individual or organization whose efforts and activities work tirelessly for the game and support of the NFF’s mission in the North Texas area. Past recipients have included legendary college football photographer Brad Bradley (2016), longtime Texas Stadium general manager Bruce Hardy (2014) and noted Dallas philanthropist and businesswoman Ruth Altshuler (2013).

During his time as the chairman of the State Fair, Pete Schenkel fought to keep the annual Texas-Oklahoma rivalry game at Cotton Bowl Stadium, where it has been played since 1929. A highlight of the State Fair of Texas each fall, the game is an important event for both schools and the city of Dallas. However, the game almost left the historic venue in 2007.

Schenkel worked to get voters to approve millions of dollars in renovations to the stadium, and was a key negotiator in persuading the Longhorns and Sooners to remain at the venue.

Then in 2014, Schenkel again led negotiations for the city and the State Fair of Texas to complete a deal that will keep the game at the Cotton Bowl through 2025. With continued renovations to the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium and improvements to the fairgrounds, Schenkel sees the game staying at the Cotton Bowl for years to come.

“The schools appreciate the venue,” Schenkel told The Dallas Morning News in 2014. “It’s more of an event, than it is a game.”

According to The Dallas Morning News, Oklahoma and Texas each receive direct payments of $500,000 for playing in Dallas, along with a split of the ticket sales. Dallas officials have estimated that the game provides an economic boost of more than $20 million in Dallas County each year.

Schenkel has deep roots in North Texas. Born and raised in South Dallas, Schenkel helped his dad run a dairy farm in Wilmer-Hutchins as a teenager. Over three decades, he worked his way up from a Schepps Dairy deliverer to an owner of the company in 1987.

He continued to work for the company after he sold it to Dean Foods. Along the way, Schenkel has served on some of the most influential boards that have helped shape Dallas and North Texas. He chaired the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board of Directors and the Methodist Health Care Foundation.

Although he’s retired from Dean Foods, he still reports to his office every morning, remains active in nonprofit circles and helps direct a charitable fund with his wife, the Pat and Pete Schenkel Charitable Trust. He also serves on the board of the Dallas Blue Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families of Dallas police officers killed or wounded in action. In 2011, Schenkel received the 82nd annual Linz Award for civic service in Dallas.

The April 2 event will also recognize the best high school and collegiate student-athletes in North Texas and distribute a number of scholarships. The chapter’s highest honor, the Distinguished Texan Award, will be presented to National Football Foundation President & CEO Steve Hatchell while Award-winning sportscaster Scott Murray will serve as the evening's emcee for the ninth consecutive year.

The event will also provide the stage for the presentation of several other awards, including the Steve Storie Official of the Year Award; the Legends Award to a former athletics director or coach who has made significant contributions to the game; and the high school coaches of the year awards.

The club's awards committee will announce the additional honorees in the near future. For more information on tickets and/or banquet sponsorship opportunities, please contact club president Gerald Brence at 469-878-5370 or via email at

The NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas is one of 120 nationwide chapters of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. The NFF is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF High School Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.

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