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Big Tex is no more.
October 19, 2012 9:05 AM   Subscribe

The State Fair of Texas is underway, famous for its fried foods and livestock shows. Perhaps nothing is more iconic than the giant, talking statue of Big Tex--look at the domain name of the Fair if you don't believe me. But today, creating probably the greatest/most traumatic State Fair memories of all time for those present, Big Tex caught on fire and burned. Rest in peace, Big Tex.
posted by resurrexit (74 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Could have been self-inflicted after witnessing the last few Texas-Oklahoma games.
posted by shecky57 at 9:05 AM on October 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's how they do the Wicker Man down south...
posted by Renoroc at 9:06 AM on October 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I thought that was last month.
posted by ryanrs at 9:07 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by First Post at 9:07 AM on October 19, 2012


I just heard the voice of Hank Hill crying out "Big Tex! Noooo!".
posted by benito.strauss at 9:07 AM on October 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


"Big Tex made his debut at the 1952 fair. He was altered the following year to straighten his nose, correct a lascivious wink and allow him to talk."

A lascivious wink? Picture, please.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:08 AM on October 19, 2012


Must have been heartburn from eating too much of that fried stuff.

Could have been self-inflicted after witnessing the last few Texas-Oklahoma games.

*wince*
posted by kmz at 9:08 AM on October 19, 2012


.

I'm so bummed out. I didn't even get a chance to drive my kids up there yet. Was waiting one more year.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That really makes the derogatory schadenfreude that I direct at Texas, like, tingle.
posted by mr. digits at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's the big deal? They do this every year at that fair out in the Nevada desert.
posted by Longtime Listener at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2012


Somewhere, some televangelist is trying to think of a way to blame this on the gays.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Burning man, y'all?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a weird piece of cognitive dissonance I maintain... in high school, I heard a rumor that the state of Nebraska was planning on building a gigantic Herbie Husker statue that would straddle I-80 somewhere west of Lincoln. I know this is bullshit, but I refuse to accept that and as far as I'm concerned the Colossus of Nebraska is something that nearly happened.

So maybe Big Tex should be rebuilt straddling a highway.
posted by COBRA! at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2012


Burning Tex. Totally. Build a new one every year and burn it down in a big celebration of TEXAS COMMUNITY.
posted by egypturnash at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the Wiki article, lol: "Big Tex burned down on Friday October 19, 2012. State Fair officials confirmed that the statue was completely destroyed. He died."
posted by resurrexit at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"That really makes the derogatory schadenfreude that I direct at Texas, like, tingle."

Really? Really? Classy, digits. Reeeeaaaaally classy.
posted by kaseijin at 9:16 AM on October 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Valhalla, I am coming.. Y'all."
posted by reverend cuttle at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


derogatory schadenfreude

you go with those adverbial adverbs!
posted by reverend cuttle at 9:18 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Opening 2013: Slim Tex, now wearing the world's largest pair of fire retardant skinny jeans.
posted by joinks at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jeebus must be angry that Texas hasn't seceded from the US yet.
posted by tommasz at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, I was thinking that maybe Hank Hill wouldn't have been upset. In fact, maybe this was the act of a propane terrorist.

Via wikipedia:
In an episode of the FOX-TV animated series of King Of The Hill, Big Tex is the focus of the 8th Season episode titled "Girl, You'll Be a Giant Soon," which first aired April 25, 2004, Hank Hill is upset that the State Fair of Texas will not allow propane Bar-B-Que grills to be used. Luanne Platter, Hill's niece, decides to protest this by climbing inside Big Tex and staging a sit-in protest.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. I'm actually kind of crushed. Big Tex freaked me out for many years of my childhood, but in recent years, I had come to really respect him as an essential part of the Texan identity. He was creepy, corny, and obviously dangerous. But he was iconic, and he was always there, no matter what else changed at the fair, or in life. He was the same Big Tex I waved at two weeks ago holding my girlfriend's hand, that I once waved at peering cautiously from behind my mom's leg. Despite his unnatural visage, he was always jolly and welcoming when he spoke in that almost drunken slur. For that day, he let you know that you weren't just visiting the fair- you were a part of it. And he always waved. Here's one last wave for you big guy. Happy trails, Tex.
posted by Krazor at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


Oh, the huge-man-ity!
posted by The Deej at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


reverend cuttle: ""Valhalla, I am coming.. Y'all."

Y'allhalla.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:28 AM on October 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Great. Now I'm going to have "BIG TEX ON FIRE" (to the tune Die Antwoord's BABY'S ON FIRE (probably NSFW)) stuck in my head the rest of the day.
posted by komara at 9:30 AM on October 19, 2012


to the tune of Die Antwoord's BABY'S ON FIRE

My first thought was Eno.
posted by mykescipark at 9:34 AM on October 19, 2012


Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first 50-foot tall bionic man. Big Tex will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, folksier.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:34 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Better, stronger, folksier.

and with more corn dogs.

Y'allhalla.

*hangs head in shame*
posted by reverend cuttle at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


reverend cuttle: "and with more corn dogs."

Texans don't take kindly to such frank talk about the male anatomy of their icons.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:39 AM on October 19, 2012


Right before the election. Huh.

Rest in peace, Tex. He never met a phor he didn't like.
posted by gurple at 9:43 AM on October 19, 2012


.
posted by donajo at 9:43 AM on October 19, 2012


It's a sign. A deity has been so offended by Texas that an effigy has been destroyed. Did the smoke go up or down, and was it white or black?
posted by theora55 at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You call that a burning man? Meh.
posted by Chuffy at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2012


Zozobra in Texas?
posted by incandissonance at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2012


Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!
posted by grouse at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2012


Monday was the Big Tex erection at the State Fair of Texas. The erection lasted about three hours, so it's safe to say that this 60-year old Texan is most definitely on Cialis.

With an opening line like that, it should have been the the Dallas Observer that burned to the ground. Who wrote this? Jay Leno?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was actually bummed to hear that. He's been there every time I've been to the fair, and I just introduced my daughter to him last weekend. Sure, at its core is a cheesy piece of Americana, but the loss of a tradition for no good reason is unfortunate to those who value it.
posted by dios at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is very sad!

My condolences, fans of the Texas State Fair. This seems like the kind of thing that would end up in the background of generations' worth of snapshots, something that connects the present with the past. My condolences. The guy must have felt like an old friend.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


During the off-season one could see his body stacked neatly by the pig barn. His head hidden beneath a giant green tarp.
posted by svenvog at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, they'll just put a new skin on him, not for the first time: Big Tex, Sans Logos, and Looking Mean. Maybe they can do a version that doesn't have gigantic "Dickeys" logos on it.

But, more importantly, shouldn't we now pay more attention to the cause that he set himself afire to protest, the abuse of helpless Texas longhorns?
posted by seventyfour at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2012


I follow DFW Scanner on Facebook (which is great if you want to know about every single shooting, car wreck and fire in DFW); here’s what they posted:


Just before 10:30 a.m., 777 with Dallas FD came over the radios and asked if Dispatch had received a call stating Big Tex on fire.

Dallas FD sent a full alarm to the State Fair shortly thereafter, stating "Big Texas is on fire!...reportedly."

Address dispatched was 1100-1198 1st Ave. "All units answering the box enter through the Grand Gate."

Dallas FD unit 777 (not sure who that is) advised units en route a large column of black smoke was coming from that area.

Dallas FD 777 was on scene first and advised "Tall cowboy with all his clothes burned off."

Engine 6 was second on scene, advised "We've got Big Texas on fire"

Another unit came over radio and said "Howdy folks, its hot!" Truck 19 was on scene after that, advised "Big Texas is gone!"

posted by emjaybee at 10:08 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


WE CAN REBUILD HIM.

WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY.
posted by jscalzi at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


>WE CAN REBUILD HIM.
>WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY.

They shouldn't try. His size 70 boots will be impossible to fill.

RIP, Big Tex.
posted by davelog at 10:14 AM on October 19, 2012


As a native (yes, we call ourselves NATIVES) Texan (who tried to get away but got pulled back), I hold very little warmth in my heart for this state.

But I do have pride. It's . . . complicated. I lean a bit farther to the left than most liberals would be comfortable with, in a state filled with people who think unions are satans' tool and football should come after god but before family, I still feel a special pride to be a native of the great state of Texas.

All that aside, I wanted to share something about Texans. They got a sense of humor. Everyone I've talked to today has reacted with real sorrow about this loss. But every one of them then makes a dark joke.

And . . . emjaybee beat me to my punch line. DAMN YOU slow fingers.

Anyhow, the point is that Big Tex is damn important here, but we're still able to make jokes about his demise.

Especially knowing that since he is just a metal frame covered by, apparently, very flammable fabric, he will be back next year, hopefully with the same drunken slur.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2012


He's with Touchdown Jesus, now.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Facebook is covered with cries of "Arson" for me.
Something about the suspicious timing.
I imagine it probably has something to do with football.
posted by Seamus at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2012


Damn. I've been meaning to go to the state fair sooner or later for about, oh, 30 years. That'll learn me to procrastinate.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:20 AM on October 19, 2012


I imagine it probably has something to do with football.

WE WILL AVENGE HIS DEATH BY... scoring more points than our opponents in a sporting contest.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:20 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In keeping with the spirit of the State Fair, all of the charred bits of Big Tex should be double battered and deep fried.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


You cannot destroy a god with mere fire.
posted by Nelson at 10:30 AM on October 19, 2012


The arson claims started immediately.

It wouldn't surprise me. Some crazy anti-denim activists tried to poison him last year.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 10:30 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


mr. digits: "That really makes the derogatory schadenfreude that I direct at Texas, like, tingle."

hey, don't be a jerk. He leaves behind a giant fiberglass widow and two giant fiberglass children, you know.
posted by boo_radley at 10:32 AM on October 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


was destroyed completely, leaving nothing but hands, feet, partial face, and a metal skeleton frame.

I don't get it. "Destroyed, except for 90% of it" would seem more accurate. The "structure" seems to be nothing but a metal frame plus some decorative bits and a fabric covering that is replaced every year to begin with. The impression is that Big Tex is much more of an idea than a specific physical structure, so why wouldn't they just rehab/rebuild it as needed for next year and state fairs to come?
posted by anazgnos at 11:25 AM on October 19, 2012


The impression is that Big Tex is much more of an idea than a specific physical structure, so why wouldn't they just rehab/rebuild it as needed for next year and state fairs to come?

That's what one of the linked articles actually says.
posted by Atreides at 11:41 AM on October 19, 2012


And yea, verily, He shall cometh again as Bigger Tex!
posted by kmz at 11:41 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big Tex is now....Texas Toast.

Forgive me.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


My daughter has had a pic with her dad and Big Tex a few times in her life; the first when she was about 5 months old and the latest on Wednesday.
This makes me so sad! We were just there, and Big Tex was there, and today I watched him burn on the news. And then get taken down, put on a flatbed, and covered with a giant tarp like a giant freaking body bag.
posted by shmurley at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I reallllllly want Tim Gunn to come down here now and give Big Tex a makeover.

Only Tim Gunn can dry this native Texan's tears over the loss of this Dallas icon - preferably with a natty, polka-dotted pocket square while we check out hectares of fabric bolts at Mood.

(not denim-ist)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:50 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. "Destroyed, except for 90% of it" would seem more accurate. The "structure" seems to be nothing but a metal frame plus some decorative bits and a fabric covering that is replaced every year to begin with. The impression is that Big Tex is much more of an idea than a specific physical structure, so why wouldn't they just rehab/rebuild it as needed for next year and state fairs to come?

No one is nostalgic for the metal frame. It destroyed the recognizable parts of it, so Big Tex as people saw him is "destroyed". While some people are actually upset, most people in Texas seem to be joking about it already.

Also I'm sure they'll remake it. This is an imperfect analogy because one is much more iconic, but say a couple letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign caught fire; everyone would get upset for a few days but they'd replace them and everyone would move on. Unless they drastically change Big Tex's appearance, this will be a slightly interesting footnote on the history of the state fair in under 5 years.
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:20 PM on October 19, 2012


I don't get the Texas hate. I'm also a native Texan but I've lived in other states and there are just as many bigots/assholes/bible-thumpers in others as in Texas. South Carolina was worse really. Wayyyy worse.

And, we have Austin. That must count for something.

(I don't miss Tex, that thing was ugly. Just keep the funnel cake coming and everyone will be happy!)
posted by Malice at 12:54 PM on October 19, 2012


But whatever will Heather Jo do now?

She does not have eyes for the prize roosters,
And she's cold toward the reptile boy
Corny dogs don't thrill her like they use-ter
She only needs Big Tex to bring her joy.

--Austin Lounge Lizards, "Big Tex's Girl"
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2012


I don't get the Texas hate. I'm also a native Texan but I've lived in other states and there are just as many bigots/assholes/bible-thumpers in others as in Texas. South Carolina was worse really. Wayyyy worse.

People make Texas/Texan jokes because of the stereotype that Texans believe everything is bigger and/or better in Texas.
posted by Atreides at 1:05 PM on October 19, 2012


Texans believe everything is bigger and/or better in Texas.

We might have a good reason for that.

In any case, the Texas hate one often finds has always bugged me, because I love Texas. The more I've seen it though, it seems indistinguishable from general hating on southern bigots from any state, unless the person is really dumb and honestly thinks that Texas is full of those types.

I would disagree with Malice though, because I don't know for sure if there are "as many bigots/assholes/bible-thumpers in other [states] as in Texas", if only because Texas is so big and populous. While South Carolina is (I'm assuming) way worse per capita, the sheer size of Texas means statistically you get as many if not more stories of stupid backwoods thinking coming from the state as other states.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:15 PM on October 19, 2012


You know, it seems to me that this provides a perfect marketing synergy moment for makers of flame-retardant fabrics. A friend of mine's insisting that somebody needs to re-brand the guy as Flame Retardant Tex - maybe even have a contest whereby entrants blast the re-clothed giant with a flamethrower, to prove he's a worthy replacement?

Hope somebody jumps on that idea; it's bound to drum up plenty of positive PR for the state, plus boost the local economy.

People think of oil when they hear the phrase "Black Gold," but truth is, black humor's the real treasure hidden deep in the heart of Texas... if you don't believe me, go watch Bernie. It's scarily accurate.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:20 PM on October 19, 2012


Opening 2013: Slim Tex, now wearing the world's largest pair of fire retardant skinny jeans.

He's in Dallas, not Austin.

/native Texan, yeah, we joke through the sads. I hope they rebuild him, because I haven't gotten to the fair either and wanted to go next year.
posted by immlass at 1:25 PM on October 19, 2012


And yea, verily, He shall cometh again as Bigger Tex!

Amen!
posted by donajo at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2012


I would disagree with Malice though, because I don't know for sure if there are "as many bigots/assholes/bible-thumpers in other [states] as in Texas", if only because Texas is so big and populous. While South Carolina is (I'm assuming) way worse per capita, the sheer size of Texas means statistically you get as many if not more stories of stupid backwoods thinking coming from the state as other states.

I was prepared to argue with you, but when I checked the facts, Texas has 25million people versus SC having just under 6million.

From my time there, though, I would say anecdotally it just /felt/ worse.

I also love Texas. I really do! People (of both sexes) open doors for you, people say 'excuse me', there's always a polite nod to be had or given when you go out in public. Now, we have our share of asshats but people are just.. nicer, here. And not so much in a hurry.
posted by Malice at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's what I mean by way worse per capita. If half the people in SC are "bad," you could have more "bad" people in Texas if only a fifth of them are "bad." It'll feel worse living in SC in this case, as you deal with the "bad"-ness on a small scale all the time, but statistically I'd say the incidents that make Southerners look bad on a news-worthy national could come from any of these people and Texas has a lot.

Totally agree though, I love living in Texas and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
posted by DynamiteToast at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, the Golden Driller remains standing here in Tulsa for folks who need to get their campy statue fix.
posted by wierdo at 5:01 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weirdo: and you've still got the World's Largest Praying Hands too.

(born in OKC, moved to Austin in '96 and Houston in '05)
posted by mrbill at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2012


Unfortunately, the hands come with a large mass of sanctimonious assholes that I could do without. As you might imagine, that is a much less appealing sight.
posted by wierdo at 11:39 PM on October 19, 2012


kmz: "Bigger Tex"

I was going to say they'd make him 1776 inches tall, but this is Texas, so I'm guessing 1836 inches.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:29 PM on October 20, 2012


I was really surprised how much this shook me up. As others here have mentioned, Big Tex was a childhood constant, welcoming us to the State Fair every year. We literally grew up with Big Tex. He was a seemingly eternal presence in our lives. A friend of mine described him as being "like a kind and wise next door neighbor." He will be missed. R.I.P., Big Tex.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:37 PM on October 23, 2012


10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Big Tex"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:18 PM on October 23, 2012


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