Big Texas before the fire in October 2012. (File)
DALLAS (September 22, 2013)--Almost a year after the iconic Big Tex went up in flames, the 21st Century incarnation of the towering Cowboy will be unveiled Friday as the State Fair of Texas opens.
Big Tex burned down last October after an electrical short started a fire that consumed all but the hands and a few metal pieces.
Fair officials say the new version will be a lot like the old one, but will also be fireproofed.
"We heard loud and clear that people wanted the same Big Tex that they'd known and loved,” fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding told The Dallas Morning News.
With his 75-gallon hat, 50-pound belt buckle and folksy, slow drawl greeting, “Howdy, folks!" Big Tex has been the star of the fair since 1952.
The birthplace of the towering cowboy was actually outside Dallas in the town of Kerens, where the giant figure was originally a Santa Claus.
Big Tex was showing his age even before this latest birthday.
When he turned 50 in 2002, crews made his hair grayer and added wrinkles to his face and hands.
Milestones In The Life Of Big Tex
Erected as a 52-foot-tall "Santa Claus" on Nov. 10th, 1949, in Kerens to bolster the town's Christmas shopping.
Transported 60 miles to Dallas and sold to the State Fair of Texas for $750.
Transformed and unveiled as a giant cowboy named "Big Tex" and made its debut in late October as the official symbol of the State Fair of Texas.
Speaks for the first time. Over the years, six men have provided the voice for Big Tex, which says "Howdy, folks!" about 60 times a day during the fair.
Original body was rebuilt on a cage-like frame made of 4,200 feet of steel rods.
Upgraded with body movements, waving to fairgoers as they passed by to the Midway.
Turns 50, gets an all-new wardrobe and a new voice.