Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Big Tex catches fire and is destroyed while welcoming visitors to the State Fair of Texas.
Big Tex, the towering, iconic symbol of the State Fair of Texas, caught fire on Friday morning. The blaze consumed nearly all of Big Tex’s clothes, leaving behind little more than a metal frame as shocked attendees snapped photos.
No one was injured, and the fire was extinguished, NBC DFW reported. Firefighters told NBC DFW that the symbol caught fire after an electrical issue. Electrical controls move Big Tex's mouth and head, fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding told The Associated Press.
Big Tex made his debut at the State Fair in 1952 and 10 years later co-starred in the movie remake of the musical "State Fair." In the intervening decades, he has become recognized for his unusual posture, his massive blue jeans and his trademark "Howdy, folks!" in a booming voice.
The 52-foot figure wears size 70 boots and a 75-gallon hat, according to BigTex.com. This year's fair, which closes Sunday, had been celebrating Big Tex's 60th birthday.
Bill Bragg, the voice of Big Tex, told NBC DFW that that he had a "lump in my throat" over the figure's destruction.
But he said that Big Tex will "be rebuilt bigger and better than ever. He will be back next year.
I will be his voice."
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also vowed a "bigger and better" Big Tex.
"Dallas is about Big Things and #BigTex was symbolic of that. We will rebuild Big Tex bigger and better for the 21st Century," Rawlings wrote on Twitter.
The blaze erupted with just a single weekend left to go for Big Tex to greet fair visitors, NBC DFW reported. The fair closes this year on Oct. 21.