Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Apr 17, 2024
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Let’s Burn Down Big Tex Every Year

With a little effort, it can become Dallas' most storied tradition.
Illustration of Big Tex on fire
James O'Brien

When I initially proposed the idea of ritually burning down Big Tex every year on the last day of the State Fair, it was too soon. It was 2013. Less than a year had passed since Big Tex had actually burned down to his boots, accidentally, on the last Friday of the State Fair, and people were still in the throes of pretend grief about their childhood memories or whatever being ruined and hadn’t yet found the strength to move on.

Perhaps I seemed a bit—I was going to say bloodthirsty, but I’m not sure what is running through Big Tex’s veins. He probably doesn’t have veins, does he? That would be weird. It’s not like he’s anatomically correct. I would say Big Tex is more like anatomically adjacent, in that he was constructed to be more or less in the shape of a human male, but if you saw a real person walking around who looked like that, not even in the garish costume they put him in, but just in, you know, jeans and sneakers and maybe a Rangers cap, you would be mildly horrified. Everything is all out of proportion!

Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked. Anyway, like I said, it was too early to suggest burning down Big Tex back then. I get that. But now that seven years have passed—and with a new mayor at City Hall and a new councilman in District 7—I think the time is right to revisit the idea. It’s pretty simple: every year, on the last day of the State Fair, we set Big Tex ablaze and let him burn until there’s nothing left but a blue transparent force ghost standing next to Yoda and Obi-Wan.

Every year, there is a big kickoff to the State Fair, with a parade through downtown and an opening-day ceremony in the evening. This year’s featured the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and the Kilgore College Rangerettes. It’s a big deal. But nothing really happens on the last day. The Fair just kind of ends, and I’m sure plenty of people don’t even realize it until it’s already over and all the corn dogs and carnies’ prosthetic limbs have been packed up.

But what if I were to tell you that, on the morning of the final day of the State Fair, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was going to shoot a ceremonial flaming arrow into Big Tex’s XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL Dickies shirt, while The Polyphonic Spree performed? Is that something you might be interested in? I’m not saying that Romo is definitely going to be the one to do it. Maybe it’s Roger Staubach. Maybe it’s not even a former Cowboys quarterback. They have a lot of retired linemen, too. Or, you know, whatever. Maybe it’s the mayor or some actor from Allen who’s got a new CBS series or something. Don’t focus on the specifics, just the broad strokes of the idea.

And think about how many people take photos in front of dumb ol’ regular nonburning Big Tex every year. Can you imagine how many would want to get a snap in front of a Big Tex engulfed in flames? You probably can’t, because the average brain can’t process a number that large, but it’s a lot. We’d set State Fair attendance records every year. I’m sorry, did everyone stop liking money?

Here’s what it would look like, maybe.

That’s not the only reason to do it. Maybe it’s not even the main reason. Listen, we are a city that is forever looking for tradition, for history, to fight our natural urge as Dallasites to tear something down and pave it over. In this case, we get to do both, to create a legacy through destruction.

Also, if we have to build a new Big Tex every year, maybe we will eventually come up with a design that doesn’t look like some middle-aged guy from Boston attending Cattle Baron’s Ball for the first time.

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