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Big Tex has presided over every Texas State Fair since 1952.

Big Tex is the 52 foot (16 m) tall icon of the annual State Fair of Texas held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas (USA). 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 (66 m) of denim and weigh in at 65 pounds (29.5 kg).

Big Tex's beginnings were in 1949 as a 49 foot (15 m) 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.

Big Tex, 1956

Few men have played the part of the voice of Big Tex since its inception; the current being Bill Bragg. Bragg was selected as a replacement after his predecessor, Sonny Ray Stolz, winner of the original statewide competition for the voice of Big Tex, held live during the 2001 Cotton Bowl, decided not to continue after the 2001 season. Bragg, a runner-up in the competition, made his debut during the 2002 Edition of the Fair as "Big Tex", celebrating the icon's 50th birthday. It has been noted by media sources, fair officials, and family members of the late Jim Lowe, famous for holding the title of being the longest-running voice in Big Tex history, that Stolz's voice most resembled that of Lowe's.

All of Big Tex's announcements are performed "live" and his booming voice echoes over the entire 277-acre (1.12 km2) Dallas Fair Park for nine hours each day; during the entire 24 day annual event.

Big Tex in the media

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 24, 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.

Resources

Coordinates: 32°46′47″N 96°45′44″W / 32.77972°N 96.76222°W / 32.77972; -96.76222

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