Memories survive the ashes of State Fair’s iconic cowboy, Big Tex

It was his 60th birthday. No one saw it coming. Smoke appeared out of nowhere, and before anyone could stop the flames, he was gone. Big Tex had burned.

This was a rough year for Big Tex. His big birthday bash was rescheduled due to large amounts of rain. Just after the celebration concluded, the 52-foot cowboy met an untimely demise.

October 19 was a tragic day for crowds at the State Fair in Dallas. Half an hour after the gates opened, an alleged electrical fire sparked inside of Big Tex’s right boot. Passersby first noticed smoke coming from his neck and stood watching as the flames engulfed the beloved icon.

News spread almost as quickly as the flames, and supporters around the nation grieved the loss of the Texas legend.

“My heart is so very sad,” Resident Director Rebeka Retta said. “It was (a) childhood memory.”

Sophomore nursing major Lizzy McElyea grew up visiting Big Tex each year. Hailing from Dallas, she knows how big a deal the fair is and considers it a kind of tradition.

Her family would stop to take pictures with Big Tex in the background, waving his arm and welcoming guests to the fair with a booming voice: “Howdy, folks, and welcome to the State Fair of Texas.”

When McElyea heard about his tragic end, it was as though a close friend had died.

“I actually heard through the grapevine that he burned, and I thought people were joking,” she said. “I had to Google it to find out for myself, and I was so sad and distraught because that was a childhood memory of mine. It’s like a hero burning to the ground.”

While some mourned Big Tex’s fiery finish, others chose to handle the circumstances with a hint of humor.

“Looks like they couldn’t think of anything else to fry at the fair, so they decided to fry Big Tex,” freshman finance major James Ewing posted as a Facebook status.

After the flames died out, Big Tex’s iron frame stood tall and bare, his singed hands the only recognizable survivors of the tragedy. The gentle giant was carted away in a super-sized body bag. Texas’ great loss was recognized around the nation.

Despite the tragedy, the State Fair remained open for the duration of its run. Statements issued by officials said that plans are in the making to restore Big Tex to his rightful place by the 2013 grand opening. Rumors are circulating that this new and improved icon will be better than ever. McElyea looks forward to seeing the restoration and improvements at the fair next year.

She said, “I heard the news that he’s going to be rebuilt and he’s going to be bigger and better, so I’m excited to see what the new Big Tex brings to the table.”

Author: Halley Harrell

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