Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


October 27, 2012

Memories of Big Tex

Corsicana — Typically when bad things happen it’s just after I’ve left there, or am on my way to there.

When I was on my (admittably slow amble) towards Beijing, that’s when Tiananmen Square took place. We were in New York on Aug. 30, 2001. We took a helicopter to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and two weeks afterwards the helicopter crashed.

So, imagine my surprise when I went to the State Fair and Big Tex burned down while I was on the other side of the building. And despite having been a reporter for 20 years, I didn’t run towards the sudden column of black smoke appearing in the sky. I actually thought the building was on fire, so I ran inside the building to get my sister and our friends out.

When I realized the building wasn’t on fire, I went outside to take pictures but was chased away by the fire fighters and cops. I got a few photos, but nothing spectacular.

Big Tex’s fiery end was sad, but I’m glad no people were hurt and he can be rebuilt. My family’s actually been going to the fair longer than Tex was there. My grandfather and his brothers used to take the train from Corsicana and go up for the day. In the 1930s, the whole family went on the train and bought a car there, then drove it home.

Yeah, they bought a car at the fair. As my mom used to say, I come from a long line of crackpots.

I go to the fair almost every year, and have since I was a kid. I love the people-watching, and I typically go see the animals and browse through the Embarcadero and buy some weird kitchen gadget. I eat a corn dog. It’s still a family tradition. I love it.

The big difference in being there on the day of Big Tex’s Big Fire was the camaraderie of the crowd. We weren’t just strangers that day. We had something in common. People were talking to each other while they stood in line, or while waiting for shows to start. The employees at the fair talked to the customers in a different way, and the Big Tex jokes flew like embers in the wind.

At the end of the day, I told my friends that if the State Fair would burn Big Tex every day it would be awesome.

Anyway, here are some of the jokes I heard that day, attributions where I have them:

“Finally, a man who truly understands what it means to have a hot flash.” (Tammy Belcher)

(In Big Tex’s slow, deep voice) “Howdy folks, fiiiiire.” (Wes Stacey)

“I thought I was coming to the Fair, but it turned out to be Burning Man.”

“You know Oklahoma had something to do with this.”

“They’ll fry anything.”


Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail:


Text Only
  • deannakirk.jpg For a community that’s hurting

    I think all would agree that our community is hurting right now.
    It seems like some weeks, our quota of tragedy and loss just goes through the roof. This is one of those weeks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley An inspiring life

    Last week, while Americans prepared their fireworks for the fourth of July, Louis Zamparini quietly slipped the bonds of this earth at the age of 97.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg The 'H-O-A' and You

    If you live in Florida, homeowner associations (HOAs) are pretty much a fact of life. An HOA is a corporation formed, usually by a real estate developer, for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling homes, condominiums, and apartments within a new residential development.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guest Commentary: Public's right to know is a worthy legislative agenda

     Last week’s Texas Press Association convention in Corpus Christi served as a reminder to elected officials that We the People own the government. The reminder didn’t take the negative tone of a warning or a threat, but of positive reinforcement in recognizing four of those elected officials who defended the people’s right to a free flow of their information.

    July 6, 2014

  • deannakirk.jpg Updates on some friends

    So, lots of folks have asked me about the Bartons and the Arnetts.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley Celebrating freedoms

    When our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams envisioned celebrations in every city with parades, fireworks and political speeches “from one end of this continent to the other.”

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Duck calls and ‘The Swan’

    They’re famous  for duck calls in Monroe, Louisiana, and a few blocks away lives a Christian entertainer, Dr. Dennis Swanberg. Known as “The Swan,” he has long been known for impersonations that sound every bit as “real” to listeners as the calls do to ducks.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg ‘The View’ in turmoil

    “The View,” — love it or loathe it — is one of the stalwarts of the TV morning talk show genre. However, the panel of eclectic women has imploded over the last few months.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Belcher, Bob.jpg Some sights have me asking ‘really?’

    One of the things you’ll hear over and over again if you go to enough meetings, listen to enough chatter — or read enough Facebook — is the need to clean up our city.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • deannakirk.jpg Being a blessing

    Do you ever just look at some people and wonder, “How do they do it?”

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo