Jon E. Garrett
Writing the future of journalism one post at a time


October 19, 2012

Big Tex goes down in a blaze of glory

Everyone knows everything is bigger in Texas. From belt buckles to bra sizes, watermelon festivals to (unfortunately) waistlines and, of course, football stadiums – nobody does BIG better than the Lone Star State.

For the past 60 years Big Tex, has exemplified that spirit. Standing 52-feet tall, sporting size 70 boots, a 50-pound belt buckle and a 75-gallon hat, the friendly cowboy greeted visitors to the State Fair of Texas inside the Cotton Bowl with a friendly, “Howdy, folks!”

That happy reign ended today, however, when a fire broke out and consumed all but the skeleton of the structure, some clothing and his partially burned hands – one of which still extended into a perpetual wave to the crowd.

Currently the cause of fire is still under investigation, though fair spokesperson Sue Gooding noted that electrical controls move Big Tex’s mouth and head. Others have pointed to more sinister theories like undercover Oklahoma fans infiltrating the fair and sabotaging Tex, or one of the many fried food vendors spreading flames to the icon.

As for me, I would like to think the beating Texas took in the Red River Rivalry game last week was too much for the old guy to bear. Like a Phoenix of old he sensed his proud tenure was over and let the cleansing flames erupt forth so that he could be born anew – younger, stronger – maybe even bigger.

That’s the plan for now with many fair and city officials declaring Big Tex will be back next year.

Mayor Mike Rawlings tweeted that the cowboy would become “bigger and better for the 21st Century.”

If so it wouldn’t be the first time Old Tex was reborn. He was originally constructed as a Santa statue to stimulate the Christmas economy in Kerens, Texas in 1949, before the fair purchased him in 195o for $750. The statue was reborn as Tex in 1952 and given his first voice (Al Jones, the first of several men to provide vocals for the giant over the years) in 1953.

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Jon E. Garrett



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