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After One Year Absence Due To Pandemic, 'America's Football Team' Returns To Ventura County To Train

(KCLU photo)
The Dallas Cowboys held their first practice at their summer training Camp in Oxnard Thursday. The camp officially opens with a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday, followed by 11 a.m. workouts Saturday and Sunday.

Die-hard Dallas Cowboys fans from around country gather to watch team training camp in Oxnard.

The Olympics aren’t the only thing catching the attention of sports fans on the Central and South Coasts. For the next few weeks, the focus on one of pro football’s most famous teams, the Dallas Cowboys, won’t be in Dallas. It will be in Oxnard.

The Cowboys are continuing a more than four-decade tradition of holding their summer training camp in Ventura County. This is the 15th year in Oxnard.

The team is again doing free public practices which are attracting Cowboys fans from around the country.

Brandon Sallard says he drove from Riverside to see his favorite team, and especially its star running back, Zeke Elliott. It's the first time he had ever seen the team in person, and he admits it's exciting and overwhelming.

There are people at the camp who planned entire vacations around coming to the Cowboys camp. Lori Gordon and her family are visiting from Fort Worth, Texas. She says her family members have been Cowboys fans for generations.

Aside from paying for parking, attending the practices is free. When you arrive, you have to do a quick COVID-19 safety questionnaire on your mobile phone before you are admitted.

The Cowboys brought their mobile team souvenir stands, with everything from caps to license plates. There are huge bleachers set up for fans to get a good view. And, the team is again allowing some local high schools to operate food concession stands to raise money for sports programs.

(KCLU photo)
Dallas Cowboys fans lining up to buy team souvenirs at their training Camp in Oxnard.

All of this is a huge boost for Oxnard with the national media exposure and fans renting hotel rooms, visiting restaurants and filling up their gas tanks.

An army of die hard fans are helping to run the camps, handling things like working as ushers. Art Rivera is one of the volunteers. The Fresno man is spending a week working at the camp.

But Michael Gallardo and Nicole Hammer might be the most dedicated fans on hand. The Oxnard couple is at the camp with their ten month old son Easton. They say they literally watched a Cowboys game while he was being born last September. They say they had the game on during the delivery, and in the recovery room.

The Dallas Cowboys Training Camp will have its official kickoff ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, with public practices at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Cowboys camp will run through August 11.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.