June 20, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Big Tex of Texas

4 min read

Big Tex Tattoo

The state of Texas suffered a devastating blow recently. On October 19th, a prestigious member of the Texas community perished. His “downfall generated headlines, and it was a popular topic on Twitter.” [1] There was a memorial service this past weekend at the Golden Gate Funeral Home, in Dallas, Texas. Who was this man? It was Big Tex. Big Tex was, and has been for the past sixty years, the greeter at the Texas State Fair. One Texan said, “He’s the mascot. He’s welcoming. He’s friendly. Everyone knows him.” State Fair officials have referred to him as their “Micky Mouse.” One knew they were at the state fair when they saw Big Tex and heard his booming voice and his southern “Howdy, folks.

Big Tex Tattoo
Big Tex Tattoo

One boy, a five-year-old from Wisconsin, heard about Big Tex and asked his parents what happened. Once his parents informed him about Tex and his untimely demise, the boy was reduced to tears. Immediately, he grabbed a one-dollar bill and a piece of paper. He scrawled out in big block letters the following,


There is some good news. Over the last few days, news outlets across Texas report that Big Tex will be back. Oh, I am sorry. If you aren’t a Texan, you may not know that Big Tex was a 52-foot-tall (fifty-two), mechanical advertisement. If you teared up because you thought a five-year-old boy was reduced to tears over a stranger–a real human being–oops. But in all seriousness, the people of Texas loved them some Big Tex. He has been a part of their history. For sixty years he has been iconic, and is known far and wide across the Lone Star State. I am sure his rebuilding will be like that of the Alamo… (I left this out originally: Big Tex caught on fire…)

Memphis' own Bass Pro
Memphis’ own Bass Pro

I know that here, in Memphis, Tennessee, there is a pyramid–a grand pyramid! It used to play a large role in the community. It was the arena for Memphis Tiger Basketball, the main venue for music entertainment, and was home to all large traveling events: the Ringling Brothers Circus, the Wonder Series’ Titanic exhibit, and the annual Church of God in Christ international holy convocations. Now it is going to be a Bass Pro Shop mega-store. I feel their pain.

What you may not know, is that Big Tex, while always big, was not always a Texas cowboy. Big Tex actually started off a Santa Claus. In 1949, Kerens, Texas, constructed a forty-nine-foot-tall Santa Claus. This Santa was created from iron-pipe drill casing and papier-mache; his beard was seven-foot lengths of rope hanging off his face. Santa was constructed because the citizens of Kerens (and surrounding towns) were leaving and doing all of their Christmas shopping in larger cities, such as Dallas (seventy-five miles away.)

Santa, before he was Big Tex
Santa, before he was Big Tex

This Santa, which the Kerens Chamber of Commerce claimed was “the world’s largest Santa Claus,” not only kept local shoppers in Kerens, but he brought in a heavy stream of curious Texans from outlying areas. Unfortunately this only worked well the first year, and by the end of the second year, giant Santa was no longer helpful. In 1951, the Texas State Fair purchased the Santa components, for $750 [2], and in 1952, Big Tex, wearing size seventy boots and a seventy-five gallon hat, start his first of sixty years as the State Fair greeter.

Over the years he has had an upgrade or two, some cosmetic surgery to straighten out his nose, new outfits, corrected a lascivious wink, an upgrade giving Tex the ability to vocally greet the guest. Little nips and tucks are okay, but will the new and improved Big Tex be glamorized like the new Minnie Mouse? (If you haven’t seen the new Minnie Mouse, it will make you sick…)

No, thank goodness.

Big Tex won’t get an extreme makeover. [1]

Big Tex will remain familiar, but may grow taller. [3]

Sue Gooding, a fair spokeswoman stated,

We have no plans to do a drastic makeover of Big Tex. Big Tex is not going to be a monstrous or freakish when we finish. It will be very respectful of the icon that we’ve had from the very beginning.

It seems that for recognition of his sixty years as a greeter, they plan to make him a few feet taller–an even sixty feet. Otherwise, it seems that the same Big Tex will be around. As you can see from the State Fair website, at BigTex.com, they claim that by next season.


[1] The Dallas Morning News – http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/state-fair-of-texas/headlines/20121024-big-tex-wont-get-an-extreme-makeover-state-fair-of-texas-says

[2] Texas State Fair – http://www.bigtex.com/sft//index.asp

[3] Examiner.com – http://www.examiner.com/article/it-s-official-big-tex-will-remain-familiar-but-may-grow-taller

2 thoughts on “Big Tex of Texas

  1. This is hush hush…They took Tex down for repair because some ladies noticed that at least one part of Big Tex wasn’t all that …big.. IYKWIMAITYD

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