Who (or what) is Big Tex, anyways?
Before becoming the world’s tallest cowboy (at 55ft), Big Tex was the world’s tallest Santa Claus. Created by the small town of Kerens, Texas to attract holiday shoppers in 1949, his gig as St. Nick lasted just two years before he was sold to the State Fair of Texas for $750. After getting a makeover that included jeans made from 100 yards of denim, Big Tex began his tenure as the official greeter of the State Fair in 1952. Some “feedback” after his debut led fair officials to make him more friendly (aka less creepy) by reshaping his face and adding his now-iconic voice. More than 65 years later, Big Tex has been the State Fair’s master of ceremonies that we've known and loved ever since.
Not every year has been a funnel cake walk for Big Tex, though. In 2012, an electrical fire consumed the patron saint of the State Fair amidst literal cries from those in attendance. In a matter of minutes, Big Tex was gone. But in true Texan fashion, Big Tex was rebuilt bigger and bolder than before at a whopping cost of $500,000. He made his triumphant return the very next year, a full 3 feet taller, 19,000 pounds heavier, and capable of withstanding hurricane force winds. Don’t mess with Big Tex now.
The first man to voice Big Tex said he was told to talk slowly and sound like a cross between Gary Cooper and Santa Claus. Only six people have had the honor of being the voice of Big Tex and it’s a secret who the voice is today. Whoever it is behind the curtain these days (actually, the performer is in a booth called “the doghouse” somewhere nearby Big Tex), he’s at the fair every day for 12 hours to make the live announcements every half hour. Cheers to this unsung hero of the State Fair.