Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 27, 2012

Memories of Big Tex

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

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.”

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com