Big Tex was like a Redneck Statue of Liberty for attendees of the State Fair of Texas, which is held annually in Dallas during September and October. Every year of my childhood I attended the Fair. I have a vivid memory of being around five and witnessing my first knife fight while walking through the midway. They also had real freak shows before they passed human rights laws against them. At the Fair, it was common for rides to break down and occasionally maim or kill people, but that never stopped the State Fair from being packed.
For many Texans the Fair was Mecca. Especially people from small towns, for them this was as big city as it gets. You had the automobile show, the midway where you could win prizes like framed Def Leppard posters, the pig races, a sort of white trash version of the sharper image with all kinds of inventions and gadgets, the Cotton Bowl where every year UT battles OU, and the cattle auctions where cattlemen buy and sell steers. Very much the Wall Street of the Texas cattle industry.
And presiding over it all is (was) Big Tex, a giant cowboy statue who would regularly make announcements in a booming robotic Texas accent.
Today Tex burned to the ground. There aren’t any details yet- but it happened during the Fair and I can’t help but think arson is involved. I’m sure more details will emerge but it is very much a sad end of an era for all Dallasites who grew up going to the Fair.
The Fair is such a huge part of my memories of growing up in the 70s and 80s. As I got older the Fair lost it’s appeal but I’ll never forget those times or the booming robo voice of Tex. In many ways he was my first giant robot.
RIP Big Tex