Big Tex and Fruitcake: Kind of a Big Deal
On October 19, 2012, a Texas icon and symbol of freedom went up in flames. Due to a viral video of the tragedy, this was the first introduction for many U.S. citizens to Big Tex, a 55-foot tall statue located at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. But like all great comeback stories, Big Tex rose from the ashes and came back with an even bigger smile on his face.
Before we explain the relationship between Collin Street and Big Tex, let’s go over a little Big Tex history with a dash of fruitcake thrown in (because his comeback story isn’t the only reason he’s smiling).
Photo submitted to Navarro County Genealogy Village by Judy Brown
Big Tex was originally created as a 50-foot Santa Claus in 1949. The Chamber of Commerce out of Kerens, Texas created the structure for a necessary marketing effort – It was intended to draw attention and shoppers to downtown Kerens during the holidays. Their idea worked and garnered a lot of local and international attention, but it was difficult to maintain in a small town like Kerens. Two years after its unveiling, the structure was sold to the State Fair of Texas in 1951 and reconfigured as the Texas cowboy, Big Tex.
Like a beacon of hope for all State Fair attendees, Big Tex served as more than a structure for the next 61 years. Seeing Big Tex at the Fair is symbolic and elicits memories of autumn and delicious (and likely fried) fair food. And when the Big Tex fire occurred on that fateful 2012 day, proud Texans across the country mourned over its presumed extinction. The day after the Big Tex fire, NPR ran a Big Tex tribute that included homages to the icon:
“Let us now praise famous men. Even when the Tilt-A-Whirl was silent and the Ferris wheel was still, there was the craggy, ever-smiling face with the hinged jaw that often scared little kids, looming high above, keeping vigil. Over the 60 years that Big Tex stood in Fair Park, his clothes evolved from a red cowboy shirt made by Lee to a yellow shirt with pearl snap buttons made by Dickies. Fairgoers were greeted by his familiar drawl: ‘Howdy, folks. Welcome to the State Fair of Texas.’”
But the 2012 Big Tex fire was not his demise. Big Tex was revitalized and rebuilt by the beginning of the 2013 State Fair season. As you can imagine, the crowd was thrilled to see him standing at his post – and they cherished his presence like never before. Something you may not know is that the Fair gives Big Tex a fresh pair of jeans and a new shirt every three years or so. THIS YEAR happens to be one of those years. Come see Big Tex in all his Texas glory!
Now, back to one of the real reasons Big Tex is always smiling: because he’s just a stone’s throw from Collin Street Bakery of course!
. . . Alright, so we haven’t quite figured out how to feed robots. But we do know how to honor icons that represent our great state so well!
Collin Street Bakery uses his famous image on our special Christmas Sleeves. The Big Tex image gives our fruitcakes a proud appearance that honors an important aspect of our state’s culture: The State Fair of Texas. In addition, Kerens, Texas (where Big Tex was born) is a neighboring city to Corsicana – the main bakery for Texas’ favorite sweets and baked goods.
The moral of the story is simple. When a Texan gets knocked down, they get back up even stronger. Just ask Big Tex. He knows.