Friday, August 3, 2012

Big Tex

Someone should have warned us, or at the least, explained to us about Big Tex. Locals were surprised we’d never heard of it. After all, it’s the nearby town’s claim to fame. They showed us old pictures but never really explained the history. So, when a local magazine came in the mail this morning and mentioned it again, I thought it was time I did a little research.

Back in the late 40’s, the town was beginning to lose Christmas shoppers to the larger nearby cities and Dallas. So in 1949, they came up with the gimmicky idea of building a giant 49 foot tall Santa Claus that they claimed was the largest in the world. It was made out of iron-pipe drill casings and papier-mache. Santa’s beard was made out of 7 foot long unraveled lengths of rope. It worked that year, but not surprisingly, interest dwindled by the next year.

So in 1951, the state fair bought Santa for $750 and transformed him into a giant cowboy. He debuted at the 1952 fair, greeting people at the entrance. He had grown to 52 feet tall, with size 70 boots, a 75 gallon hat, jeans and plaid shirt. The jeans and shirt were donated by The Lee Company. They have made a few further adjustments in following years, and now he even talks! His outfits and facial expressions have also changed over the years.

Wow. We may have to go to the fair (Sept-Oct) just to see him. It’s even his 60th birthday this year and they’re planning a big party.

Santa Claus, circa 1949 (photo: State Fair of Texas)

Big Tex, circa 1960 (photo: State Fair of Texas)
Big Tex 2004 (photo: State Fair of Texas)

Big Tex 2010 (photo: State Fair of Texas)

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