Happy Birthday, Big Tex! The State Fair Icon Turns 70
It's hard to believe Big Tex, the biggest tradition at the state fair in Texas, has been around for over 70 years (he's a little older than he looks).
He's survived fire, a worldwide pandemic, and multiple makeovers.
History of Big Tex
Big Tex made his debut as the official greeter and icon at the State Fair of Texas in 1952.
However, before becoming the face of the fair, he was busy being the biggest Santa Claus in the world in Kerens, Texas, east of Corsicana. Big Tex was built in 1949 out of iron and paper-mache to attract Christmas shoppers to the area. After a couple of holiday seasons and plenty of press coverage, the novelty wore off, and State Fair officials grabbed a unique opportunity to promote their event.
According to the State Fair of Texas website, the massive Santa Claus was purchased for $750 - more than $8300 in 2022 dollars, but still a great deal. Big Tex has welcomed visitors to the fair every year since then. In 2002, he even got an AARP card for his 50th birthday. In 2020, he wore a mask when the fair was canceled due to COVID.
Big Tex Catches on Fire
The world's tallest cowboy lit things up on his 60th birthday, when an electrical short caught one of his boots and pant leg on fire, causing the loss of his clothes, hat, and head. The incident caused widespread grief throughout the state, and was thought to be the end of Big Tex in 2012.
Fortunately, Big Tex was able to have reconstructive surgery, and came back to work at Fair Park the following year.
WFAA reports that the wardrobe for Big Tex gets updated every three years to make sure he keeps looking fresh. Here's to another 70-plus years of standing fair and tall!