No. 10: Big Tex goes up in flames
It was a tragic and public end to a Kerens native when Big Tex caught fire on the last Friday of the 2012 State Fair season.
Big Tex had once been the Kerens Santa, a 52-foot-tall reminder to shop local before being sold to the State Fair where he moved to the big city and got a shave and some pretty cowboy duds.
Tex caught fire when an electrical short shot sparks up his left leg, consuming the figure within minutes. Now, however, the rebuilding is commencing and it turns out Tex was woefully underinsured, valued at $180,000, when the actual replacement cost is going to be closer to $600,000.
Underappreciated, underinsured, Big Tex was the face of the fair. The meeting place for generations of lost kids and their parents, the friendly “Howdy” when you got onto the grounds, the cheerful reminder that fairs are meant to be fun.
Once the fire had been extinguished, nothing was left but the metal frame underneath and his arms, which still bore his Dickey’s shirt sleeves. The craggy face, the stiff upper lip, and his too-wide shoulders were black ash that settled over the fairgrounds. Even the frame was removed within a few hours of the fire, a sad reminder quickly whisked away.
A makeshift memorial appeared in Kerens following the fire.
He’ll be replaced, they promise. He’ll be back, better than ever, but this new Tex won’t be Kerens’ Tex, which is their loss.
— Janet Jacobs