Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Tex

Big Tex is the 52 foot (16 m) tall icon of the annual State Fair of Texas held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. He wears size 70 boots, a 75 gallon hat, a size 100 180/181 shirt and 284W/185L XXXXXL pair of Dickies jeans. The pants alone require 72 yards of denim and weigh in at 65 pounds.

Big Tex's beginnings were in 1949 as a 49 foot tall Santa Claus constructed from iron drill casing and papier mache in Kerens, Texas to help encourage holiday sales in the town. In 1951, State Fair president R. L. Thornton purchased Santa's components for $750 and had Dallas artist Jack Bridges transform them into a cowboy, and Big Tex was born. Big Tex currently has fiberglass "skin."

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. Former disc jockey Al Jones was the first voice of Big Tex, but would fill the role for only one season. His most familiar voice is that of radio announcer, Jim Lowe, who boomed Big Tex's signature "Howdy, folks!" for a total of 39 years.

In 1958, Big Tex underwent further re-design, bringing him closer to the look of today. The next year, a mechanism was installed that allowed his mouth to move in sync with the announcer's voice. In 1997, Big Tex was given a skeletal makeover including a new hand that waved to passersby. Three years later, his head was animated, allowing it to turn.

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