Who is Big Tex? His 1952 State Fair debut was auspicious. Speechless that first year, a little engineering helped him “find” his voice in 1953, and he’s been talking ever since. A friendly wave was added in 1997; three years later he began to turn his head. Tex may talk a little s-l-o-w but without question, he is one of the most famous Texans on earth. He is certainly the tallest.
Many baby boomers acknowledge their 50th birthdays, and Texas was no exception. A festive party was thrown in 2002, replete with giant birthday cake and an AARP card. On October 19, 2012, Big Tex was destroyed by an electrical fire, the same year he celebrated his 60th birthday.
Big Tex returned to the State Fair in grand fashion with a Texas-sized welcome back celebration held on September 27, 2013. As he had done for 60 previous fairs, Tex welcomed visitors from near and far to the great State Fair of Texas.
Vital statistics and fun facts:
Who makes clothes for Big Tex? He’s a practical guy who prefers solid workmanship and comfort offered by Fort Worth’s own Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co. His outfit is sewn in the original Dickies plant that opened in 1922 at 509 West Vickery in Fort Worth.
What’s his shirt size? His Western shirt runs a size 200 x 325 (neck x sleeve). An average man’s size is 16 x 32. He has a 33-ft 9-inch chest, 11-ft. neck and shoulders measuring 13-feet. His sleeves measure 27-ft. The buttons are 3 ½ inches in diameter. It takes a team of Dickies sewing experts two weeks to make the shirt. It has to be durable enough to withstand a month out in the elements, so Dickies makes it out of FR awning material with venting slits in the material so the wind can blow through it.
What about his pants? Big Tex’s jeans size are 434 x 240 (waist x inseam). It took 100 yards of fabric to make them; they weigh 100 pounds and have 3.5” rivets. It takes a week to make the cowboy’s jeans, replicas of Dickies popular 5-pocket jeans made from Dickies FR (flame-resistant) denim provided by Mount Vernon Mills in Trion, GA.
Does he change clothes? An outfit typically lasts three seasons. Standing outside for 24-days will take a toll on a fellow’s duds.
What about his hat, belt, and boots? He wears a 95 gallon hat. His belt is 33-feet long and is 1-foot 5-in wide. His boots are a 1949 replica boot designed by Lucchese, size 96.
What is he made of? His body is based on and held up by a steel structure with a lighter steel armature that gives him his shape. His face and hands are made of a fire-retardant product similar to fiberglass covered with a silicone skin. His boots and hat are sculpted foam with a steel armature and a fiberglass-type hard coat.
Is it true he was once a Santa Claus? Yep. In an effort to lure shoppers downtown, the Kerens, Texas Chamber of Commerce installed a giant Santa in 1949. After a couple of years, his ‘contract’ expired, and he was purchased for $750 by State Fair President and former Dallas Mayor R.L.Thornton. Dallas artist and stage designer Jack Bridges magically transformed St. Nick into a huge cowboy and, by 1952, Big Tex was on board for good.
Do people in other places know of Big Tex? Absolutely. He’s appeared in local, regional, national, and international news coverage. His resume includes film, too. In 1961, Big Tex “co-starred” with Ann Margaret in the locally-shot remake of the movie State Fair.
Big Tex: Then and Now
|1952 - 2012||2013 - Present|
|Height||52 ft.||55 ft.|
|Chest||31 ft.||33 ft. 9 in.|
|Biceps||7 ft. 8 in.||10 ft. 9 in.|
|Boots||7 ft. 7 in.||12 ft.|
|Hands||3 ft.||5 ft. 6 in.|
|Head||8 ft. in height||10 ft. in height|
|Inseam||16 ft.||20 ft.|
|Shoulders||12 ft. 6 in.||13 ft.|
|Sleeves||22 ft.||27 ft.|
|Neck||10 ft.||11 ft.|
|Waist||23 ft. 6 in.||27 ft.|
|Collar||12 ft. 6 in.||16 ft. 8 in.|
|Hat||75 gallon||95 gallon|