Big Tex Burns, Legacy Remembers



Big Tex, celebrating his 60th year at the State Fair of Texas, caught fire on Friday and was later taken down. Big Tex has been an icon for Texas and for the fair since 1952.

Officials say the 52 foot icon caught fire because of electrical problems. Some material that made up Big Tex’s hands and sleeves could still be seen as firefighters gathered around the scorched area. The Dickey’s buckle survived.

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Big Tex Facts 

HEIGHT:  52 Feet

WEIGHT:  6,000 Pounds

HAT:   75 Gallon, measuring 5 feet high

SHIRT:   The Williamson-Dickie Company will cover TEX’s 30 foot chest with a shirt that has a 100 inch neck and 181 inch long sleeves.  This is 600 times larger than the shirts they sell in the stores.  The buttons are 3 and a half inches in diameter and the shirt contains 70 yards of blue denim and 80 yards of awning material.  It took 2 weeks and a team of 8 workers to make the shirt at the Dickies work-ware plant in Fort Worth, Texas.  CLICK HERE to see the many other fine accomplishments of the Williamson-Dickie Company and their talented staff.

BELT:   23 feet long, with a 50 pound buckle

PANTS:   Size 284W x 185L.  The rivets are 3 and a half inches in diameter, the inseam is 200 inches, the fly is 56 inches long and his pants weigh a total of 65 pounds.  And, the Dickies’ folks worked a week to sew the new pants. 

BOOTS:   Size 70, measuring 7 foot 7 inches high

Big Tex’s History

1949    Conceived as a 52 foot tall “Santa Claus” on November 10th, 1949; to bolster the Christmas shopping business of Kerens, Texas in Navarro County.  The original Santa was patterned after a Mr. Hardy Mayo, a local grocer with broad shoulders, long hands and arms; who stood 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighed 270 pounds. 

1950    After the 1950 Christmas season, the novelty wore off, and the 52 foot giant was transported 60 miles to Dallas, Texas and sold to The State Fair of Texas for $750.00.   

1952    The statue was transformed into a giant Cowboy, his name was changed; and the character BIG TEX was born.  The big guy made his debut in late October of that year; as the official symbol of the Great State Fair of Texas!  Many changes to the face and body were made that first year, and TEX (along with his trade mark western clothing) has continued to evolve over the years.  Dallas artist and stage designer Jack Bridges was hired to update the face of BIG TEX. Mr. Bridges used a photograph of his own face, a photograph of rancher Doc Simmons and a photograph of Will Rogers, to create the new look.

1953   BIG TEX talks for the first time!  Over the years, six (6) different persons have performed the voice, but the most remembered voice was that of Jim Lowe.  Mr. Lowe was a pioneer broadcaster in Dallas, and had the top rated morning radio show on WRR-AM for many years.  BIG TEX says “H-O-W-D-Y” about 60 times a day during the State Fair each year.

1997    The original body was rebuilt and included a cage-like skeleton with 4,200 feet of steel rods.

2000    BIG TEX was able to move for the first time, and began to wave to the millions of State Fair visitors who passed by each year on their way to the famous “Million Dollar Midway”.

2001    Visitors spent a record 21.4 million dollars on food and amusement rides at the great State Fair of Texas.

2002    BIG TEX turned 50, got an all new wardrobe and a new voice.  Yesterday USA Radio Founder Bill Bragg was chosen as the seventh (7th) person to perform the voice of Big Tex. “While I can’t speak for the State Fair, I will say that I hope to beat Jim Lowe’s record of doing the voice for 30 plus years.”  “Doing TEX is the number one announcing job in Texas and I am deeply honored to have the opportunity”, Bragg said.

2012 BIG TEX Burns two days before the 2012 fair closes.

(facts from