Deadline set for completing Big Tex rebuilding

Jordan Rudner

The committee in charge of rebuilding Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas has not selected a builder, approved a final blueprint or even generated a cost estimate. What it has done, officials said, is set a deadline.

“Big Tex will definitely be back in time for the 2013 State Fair of Texas,” state fair spokesperson Sally Wamre said. “Big Tex is always there. He’s a tradition.”

For 60 years, 52-foot-tall Big Tex greeted visitors at the entrance of the annual Texas State Fair. But on Oct. 19, the cowboy caught fire as a result of an electrical malfunction investigators believe started in the icon’s right boot.

Fair officials removed the remnants of Big Tex from his location shortly after the fire, but plans for a new Big Tex began immediately. State Fair officials promised to restore Big Tex “so that he can once again fill his boots in time for the 2013 State Fair of Texas,” according to a press release issued the day of the fire.

Big Tex has undergone several changes since he was originally installed as the fair greeter in 1952. In 1997, his frame was strengthened with 4,200 feet of steel rods, which together weigh roughly three tons.

“Even though his clothes change every three years, for the most part, he’s the same old Big Tex,” Wamre said.

Jonette Daggs, director of sales for a planned theme park at the state fair site, said that no concrete plans have been established to rebuild the towering cowboy.

“We have not totally decided on anything for next year and that’s all under review now,” Daggs said. “We’re receiving input at this point.”

Daggs said Big Tex is more than just a greeter to those entering the fair.

“He’s an icon of the State Fair,” Daggs said. “He’s what people think of when they think of [the fair].”

Business honors sophomore Annie Zhu, who is from Plano, said she does not visit the State Fair every year but remembers Big Tex as a staple of her childhood.

“I did always go to the fair when I was a kid, and I would always look forward to seeing Big Tex there,” Zhu said. “He was a trademark that I just sort of took for granted.”

Zhu, who visited the fair this year with a native Texan friend who goes to college out of state, said she thinks Big Tex also serves as a “welcome home” message to people who have moved away.

“She felt welcomed home and said she missed Texas — fried food and Texas culture in general,” Zhu said. “Obviously people say that ‘everything is bigger in Texas,’ and I think Big Tex really symbolizes all of that.”