Ten Year Anniversary of Big Tex Catching Fire

Ten Year Anniversary of Big Tex Catching Fire
Big Tex on fire | Image by NBC DFW

Big Tex has been a Texas State Fair institution for 70 years, even though, ten years ago, fairgoers witnessed what seemed to be his untimely demise.

On October 19, 2012, the iconic 52-foot-tall cowboy statue caught fire and burned down to its mere structural elements.

State Fair officials confirmed that Big Tex was not the victim of foul play, such as arson or “homicide.”  Instead, a mechanical problem caused the electrical fire that incinerated the giant figure.

The incident progressed quickly. Witnesses reported seeing smoke coming from his neck, and within minutes he was all ablaze.

Fairgoers reported barely having time to take pictures before he was completely engulfed in flames. One fairgoer even thought it was smoke from a food vendor’s booth, but alas, it was Big Tex.

On the day of the incident, WFAA reporter David Schechter described the scene as a mourning ground. Fairgoers gravitated toward the remains of Big Tex, solemnly recording the event “almost in a sense of loss and mourning, strange as it may seem.”

Schechter went so far as to call the spectacle “a bit of a national tragedy.”

WFAA reporter Rebecca Lopez found fairgoers carrying wreaths and flowers, some reading, “RIP, Big Tex.” One fairgoer told Lopez the flowers were a sign of respect for Big Tex.

Also present was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. He told WFAA, “It’s an important symbol of Dallas, so there’s a lot of people that are emotional about it.”

By the end of the day, fairground workers had covered Big Tex’s skeletal remains in a large brown tarp, detached his hands, and wheeled him away.

However, the very next year, Big Tex was back at the fairgrounds, bigger and better than ever. The latest version of the statue is actually 3 feet taller than the original but still sports the jeans, cowboy boots, and 95-gallon cowboy hat that are so familiar to his fans.

The resurrected Big Tex also features one other important addition: he now has a built-in fire-suppression system. Hopefully, he will stick around for many more fairs to come.

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