"Howdeeeee folks. Welcome to the State Fair of Texas!" Visitors to Dallas' Fair Park have been greeted by the booming voice of a 52-foot-tall statue at the state fair for the last 60 years. But the Lone Star State icon leaves some giant boots to fill—today Big Tex met a tragic death in a purported electrical fire. There's nothing left but his hands, feet, and metal frame left to fill the world's largest body bag.
Tex debuted at the 1952 state fair, wearing size 70 boots, a 75-gallon hat, giant size 100 180/181 pearl snap shirt, a belt buckle the size of a tween, and size 284W/185L XXXXXL Dickies jeans. Out of a loudspeaker, he gave directions in a deep, smooth Texas twang. Though in 2012 making a huge statue appear to speak is not very technologically impressive—speakers and some run-of-the-mill wiring—it was a big deal in 1952.
Each year a crew of seven people stood the Texan Rip van Winkle up from his 11-month sleep using a giant crane. Fans inside of his frame (4,200 feet of steel rods) kept the workers cool from the sweltering September heat.
Children in Texas (like myself) grow up totally unfamiliar with Columbus Day. Instead, we know it as Fair Day: the day the state doles out free tickets to public school children who gleefully gorge themselves on Fletcher's Corndogs and rootbeer in the long, tall cowboy's shadow. Texas was a Texas legend, and he will rise again like a
phoenix armadillo out of the ashes prairie grass. Now would be a good opportunity for a country song entitled "The Day Big Tex Died."
Tex is survived by Bill Bragg (not to be confused with the folk singer), the seventh person ever to sit in a radio booth and lend his voice to the giant. In sixty years, Tex's script and vocabulary didn't expand much. He did pick up a little Spanish, however, as the demographics of Texas changed quite a bit in his six decades.
Unfortunately 6,000 pounds of fiberglass goes up in smoke quite quickly. Big Tex might be a literal shell of himself now, but according to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, we will rebuild. This is Dallas' third-worst tragedy, behind the assassination of JFK and the Cowboy's loss of Super Bowl XIII.