The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Fire destroys State Fair of Texas icon Big Tex, this year's fair was supposed to celebrate 60th anniversary
The remains of Big Tex after a fire took him down to the frame at the State Fair of Texas, in Fair Park, on October 19, 2012 in Dallas. Big Tex, the metal cowboy whose slow drawl of "Howdy, folks!" made him an icon of the State Fair of Texas for 60 years, was destroyed Friday when flames engulfed his 52-foot-tall frame. AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Nathan Hunsinger.

By: Danny Robbins, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP).- The man who provides the voice for Big Tex, the giant cowboy at the State Fair of Texas, was greeting people with his usual "Howdy, folks!" in a slow drawl Friday when someone rushed into his trailer to tell him the towering fair icon was on fire.

"It moved quickly," Bill Bragg said of the fire that engulfed the 52-foot-tall structure, leaving not much more than its charred metal frame behind. "It was a quick end."

This year's fair was supposed to be a celebration for Big Tex, marking his 60th birthday. Instead, the beloved cowboy was hauled from the grounds on a flatbed truck two days before the end of the fair in a procession resembling a funeral.

"It's sad to see this happen, but it's lucky no one was injured or killed," said Mike Blucher of Dallas, who was at the fair with his wife, Linda.

The fire brought a temporary end to a piece of Texas culture.

The cowboy with the 75-gallon hat and 50-pound belt buckle always was easy to spot and served as a popular meeting place for people coming to the fair or attending the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game at the nearby Cotton Bowl. But all that remained by noon Friday were hands and shirt leaves on a burned skeleton.

"Big Tex is a symbol of everything the state fair stands for," fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said. "Big Tex is where my parents told me, 'If you get lost, meet at Big Tex.'"

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Joel Lavender said Friday afternoon that the cause of the blaze had not been determined.

Some dispatchers took a playful approach to reporting the blaze. "Got a rather tall cowboy with all his clothes burned off," one said. "Howdy, folks, it's hot," another said.

Fair officials and city leaders quickly called for the return of Big Tex, vowing to rebuild the structure. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings tweeted that the cowboy would become "bigger and better for the 21st Century."

Big Tex's hands, boots and face were made of Fiberglas, Gooding said. The clothing that burned had been provided last year by a Fort Worth company, she said.

Gooding speculated that the fire could have started in mechanical workings at the base of the structure and that the metal skeleton "served as a chimney." The skeleton will be evaluated, and a new one will be built if necessary, she said.

Stanley Hill, who supervises a food stand that has been located near the structure for 18 years, said he noticed smoke coming from Big Tex's neck area. That quickly turned into a blaze that engulfed the structure's fabric covering.

"Once it started burning, it was gone," Hill said.

The structure was removed Friday in essentially the same way workers put it up every year — with a crane that slowly lowers it. Only this time, the steel skeleton was covered with a tarp.

Big Tex was actually built in 1949 as a giant Santa Claus for a Christmas celebration in Kerens, 60 miles south of Dallas. Intrigued by the idea of a towering cowboy, the State Fair paid $750 for the structure, which debuted as Big Tex in 1952.

Big Tex is inextricably linked to the State Fair. The State Fair website is www.bigtex.com, and visitors to the site see their cursor turn into an image of Big Tex's head, clad in a cowboy hat. The fair's Twitter account features the cowboy's image as well.

"You know somebody's a true Texan if you say 'Big Tex' and they don't look at you like you're weird," Gooding said.

Perhaps no one is closer to the giant cowboy than Bragg, who has served as the voice of Big Tex the last 11 years. Working inside a trailer a few yards from the base of the structure, the 65-year-old radio engineer reads from a script while his voice makes Big Tex's mouth move automatically.

As the crane moved into position to remove his old friend, Bragg was philosophical, saying he'd already been told he would be welcoming people to the fair in the same fashion next year.

"My job is safe and secure," he said. "They're telling me, 'Take the rest of the day off and we'll see you next year.'"

___

Associated Press writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this report.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.



Today's News

October 21, 2012

Hollywood costumes exhibition opens at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

Saint Louis Art Museum presents international exhibition "Federico Barocci: Renaissance Master"

Princeton University Art Museum presents City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus

MFAH presents the portraits, landscapes and Biblical paintings of Henry Ossawa Tanner

Stolen art can be burden if thieves who robbed Rotterdam's Kunsthal exhibition this week don't have a plan

The Academy unveils vision for new museum by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali

Exhibition chronicles the vital legacy of the African American artistic community in Los Angeles

Eli and Edythe Broad donate Roxy Paine sculpture and 18 additional works to Broad Art Museum

Inaugural New York exhibition of Japanese artist Makoto Saito opens at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Katharine Hepburn as fashion icon at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts,

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents exhibition of works by Tris Vonna-Michell

MdM Salzburg presents works from an outstanding Austrian collection of photography and media art

Fire destroys State Fair of Texas icon Big Tex, this year's fair was supposed to celebrate 60th anniversary

World's oldest surviving Vauxhall to be offered for sale at Bonhams

Major exhibition of Haitian art, representing Vodou, opens at Nottingham Contemporary

English city to show off Roman gold coins find

Paraguay breathes new life to its steam train

Myanmar find could flood vintage Spitfire market

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site