October 19, 2012 the beloved character who resides at the State Fair of Texas and makes his annual month long visit to the fairgrounds in East Dallas, burned to the bare metal frame with the exception of one arm. Opening day the 55′ Big Tex makes his official comeback at 2pm, but we have photos from earlier today. Seems Tex was taking a shower on his perch and the curtain dropped. We just happened to be passing by with all of our camera gear, and snapped away like a peeping Tom.
The new Tex has already taken some criticism, as you might expect. Some think he looks suspiciously Hispanic, while others think he already needs a face lift, dermatologist, and braces on his buck teeth. We think he looks just fine if not racially ambiguous, and if anything we applaud the fair officials for their quick handling of what otherwise was a PR nightmare.
We are anxious to hear New Tex’s first words. Along with the burning man Tex, we also lost the voice of Tex that had worked the mouth piece for 11 years. Bill Bragg was abruptly dismissed last year after the fire for what the State called a contract violation with regards to speaking engagements. Bragg has been extremely vocal and has lead a campaign to get his job back without success. He was on hand at the fair today playing up to the many television crews who wee looking for a story with regards to Tex. The big media shindig is at 2pm Friday, so there wasn’t much to jaw about, giving Bragg a perfect soap box to pass on his words of regret.
A few years back I emceed the Celebrity Kitchen at the State Fair and asked audiences daily to give their best Tex impression. Man, woman and child alike had their version. Some were in Chinese, others in Spanish. Let me say that anyone can do Tex, not to take away from the nostalgia brought on by 11 years of work. Although not the first voice of Big Tex, Jim Lowe, a long time radio announcer in Dallas, was the voice of Tex for 39 years. The voice often imitated was actually Lowe’s version. In 2001 a statewide competition and contest, held live at the Cotton Bowl, announced Sonny Ray Stolz as the next voice of Big Tex. Sonny decided not to continue due to what he called mistreatment by Fair officials, and the Fair brought in runner-up Bill Bragg in 2002.
We would have loved to seen an statewide cattle call for the next voice, but alas the voice remains secret until the unveiling.
Remember how I said that just about anyone can do the voice of Tex? I would love to see the Fair use their clout to have private citizens purchase minutes to portray Big Tex with the funds going to a suitable charity. Say, fire victims perhaps. I would also like to see a Miss Tex installed opposite of the Midway, giving our young women something to look up to besides the aging male icon.
Enjoy the great State Fair of Texas. CraveDFW will be bringing you plenty of fun information during the month long celebration of everything we love about Texas. When you pass Big Tex be sure to say “howdy folks!”
edit: We have been inundated with the question, and yes these are all photos of the new Big Tex.