Big Tex's History
In the free-wheeling years after the war, merchants in Kerens, Texas, had a problem. Residents of the tiny town were driving to nearby Corsicana or even 75 miles north to Dallas for pre-Christmas shopping sprees. Looking for a gimmick that might encourage people to spend money at local stores, the Kerens Chamber of Commerce built what they claimed was the world's largest Santa Claus, a 49-foot-tall figure constructed from iron-pipe drill casing and papier mache with 7-foot lengths of unraveled rope for a beard.
The promotion was a big success during the 1949 holidays, but the novelty wore off the following year, and community support waned. In 1951, State Fair president R. L. Thornton purchased Santa's components for $750 and hired Dallas artist Jack Bridges to create a giant cowboy out of the material.
Big Tex made his debut at the 1952 State Fair of Texas. Wearing size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat, Tex towered 52' above wide-eyed visitors. His denim jeans and plaid shirt were donated by the H. D. Lee Company of Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Cosmetic surgery the following year straightened his nose, corrected a lascivious wink and allowed him to talk.
From The Great State Fair of Texas - An Illustrated History, by Nancy Wiley.
On October 19, 2012, Big Tex was destroyed by an electrical fire. The State Fair of Texas is committed to rebuilding Big Tex in time for opening day of the 2013 season.
In response to numerous requests by fairgoers and Big Tex fans, a fund has been established to accept donations towards the project.