Big Tex, the beloved State Fair of Texas icon, returns to Fair Park on Friday. (If you’ve been under a rock lately, the big guy burned down last October in spectacular fashion, attracting national headlines.)
Before Big Tex makes his triumphant return, we’re going to offer a daily online look at All Things Big Tex each day until next Friday.
In today's edition of Big Tex 101, we offer you an up-close-and-personal look at his new home.
For the past couple of weeks, the new Big Tex has been resting in a big white tent at Fair Park. If you roam the fairgrounds, you can’t miss it: There’s a huge Big Tex logo on the top. Fencing and barricades surround the tent.
A few days ago, I roamed around Fair Park, taking pictures of the food booths under construction. Then I approached the white tent. I snapped some pictures.
A security guard sat under a large umbrella, guarding the precious cargo. He saw me. Then he approached me.
“No pictures,” the security guard barked.
I told him I was with the media. He didn’t care.
This is a tent. In a public place. So you can’t take pictures of a tent in a public place?
This is no see-through tent. There were no openings in which to sneak a peek.
The State Fair has been tight-lipped about the new Big Tex. No pictures have been released. Very few details have been released.
Apparently, the silence extends to Big Tex’s tent.
Anyway, I decided to ignore the security guard. I kept taking pictures from different vantage points. And I decided to put together a slideshow. (Click on the pictures above.)
Here’s what you should know about Big Tex’s new digs:
- He will still be watching over the fair from Big Tex Circle, his home for decades. But Big Tex Circle has undergone a dramatic makeover. The mound on which Big Tex sits has been improved. It’s covered with native plants, including lots of cacti. The white picket fence that surrounded him is gone. It’s been replaced with a cordova cream limestone seat wall.
- State Fair officials realize that people gather around Big Tex to take pictures, so they’ve made improvements through the years. But they figured they would improve the circle even more to take advantage of the interest in the new Big Tex.
- Big Tex has bulked up during the offseason. He’s going to weigh 25,000 pounds, up from about 6,000 before the fire. Why the weight gain? In the past, guy wires had anchored Big Tex to the ground. But fair officials wanted to ditch the wires. They wanted Big Tex to be freestanding. That meant beefing up his steel structure, especially toward his base, so he could withstand hurricane-force winds.
- Workers have improved foundational support at Big Tex Circle to help support a 25,000-pound structure. That’s partly why the beautification project is so pricey -- $600,000. In fact, that costs more than the Big Tex reconstruction, which is about $500,000.
- The State Fair is covering the costs thanks to sponsors, as well as a reconstruction fund it set up so that everyday citizens could chip in. Any remaining costs will be covered by State Fair profits.
- Big Tex will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Friday, the first day of this year’s State Fair. Typically, Big Tex is on display when the gates open at 10 a.m. But fair officials realize they couldn’t handle the morning crush of crowds wanting a look at the new Big Tex, so they’ve delayed his unveiling. A curtain will surround Big Tex until 2 p.m., when there will be a short ceremony.
Can’t get enough about Big Tex? Here are links to previous installments of Big Tex 101: