Big Tex, the 52-foot-tall cowboy whose slow drawl of ‘‘Howdy, folks!’’ made him an icon of the State Fair of Texas for 60 years, was destroyed Friday when flames engulfed his Dickies.
This year’s fair, which closes tomorrow and had been celebrating the towering structure’s birthday, went on despite the fire — just as Big Tex would want it.
‘‘Big Tex is a symbol of everything the state fair stands for,’’ fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said. ‘‘Big Tex is where my parents told me, ‘If you get lost, meet at Big Tex.’’’
The cowboy always was easy to spot, with his 75-gallon hat and 50-pound belt buckle.
Mr. Wolf attends the State Fair of Texas once every decade. Wednesday, was my first time back since 2002. We tweeted from the State Fair, and there was even a rare Wolf in the wild (south Dallas) photo posted on Twitter.
Photos of both the Wolf and Big Tex on Wednesday’s outing are posted below. This was the final appearance at the State Fair of Texas for both of us . In honor of Big Tex, 2012 will be the Wolf’s final State Fair of Texas. Catch me at the annual Stock Show in Fort Worth. We attend regularly.
Gooding said she didn’t know what caused the fire, but noted that electrical controls move Big Tex’s mouth and head. Early reports indicated that Big Tex suffered an electrical short in his shorts that quickly spread to his Dickies.
There is no truth to the rumor that Big Tex suffered a fatal heart attack and was cremated at the Fair Park. It is estimated that Big Tex consumed over 10,000 pounds of fried butter, fried ice cream, fried snickers, fried twinkies, fried bacon cinnamon rolls, fried cotton candy, fried sugar, fried Samonas (the cookies not the people) fried Kit-Kats, fried red velvet cupcakes and other deep fried concoctions while attending every single day of the State Fair of Texas for sixty years.
Bill Bragg, the voice of Big Tex who read scripts from a nearby trailer while the giant cowboy’s mouth moved, said someone came in and told him the structure was on fire. He stepped outside the trailer and watched Big Tex burn.
‘‘It was a quick end,’’ said Bragg, who is a radio engineer outside the three weeks a year that he works at the fair. Big Tex quickly succumbed to smoke inhalation, which kept him from suffering for long.
Several Big Tex backers say he will return next year, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who tweeted that the icon would be rebuilt ‘‘bigger and better for the 21st Century”, using fire retardant Dainties and Dickies.
The structure was removed later Friday in essentially the same way workers put it up every year — with a crane that slowly lowers it. Only this time, the steel skeleton was covered with a tarp and taken away in funeral-like procession.
Stanley Hill, who supervises a deep fried peanut butter stand that has been located near the structure for 18 years, said he noticed smoke coming from Big Tex’s neck area and heard Big Tex say, “Howdy folks, my Dickies are on fire.” Hill then watched for about 15 minutes as the giant cowboy burned. ‘‘I couldn’t believe it,’’ Hill said.
RIP Big Tex 1952-2012
Little Wolf at the State Fair on Wednesday, showing her support for Dallas Cowboys and SF Giants