Big Tex

Big Tex, the beloved but odd State Fair of Texas icon, has been named the country’s quirkiest landmark. 

After four weeks of online voting, the larger-than-life cowboy earned the most votes in the USA Today and 10Best "Best Quirky Landmark" contest. The winner was announced Wednesday. 

Big Tex, the beloved State Fair of Texas icon, returns to Fair Park on Friday. (If you’ve been under a rock lately, the big guy burned down last October in spectacular fashion, attracting national headlines.)

Before Big Tex makes his triumphant return, we’re offering a daily online look at All Things Big Tex until Friday.

In today's edition of Big Tex 101, we take a look at Big Tex, the fashion icon.

Flickr user Brandi Korte,.

Big Tex’s big comeback has reached an important step: The State Fair of Texas has chosen a new voice for the iconic, talking statue.

But according to KERA News in Dallas, fair officials won’t announce who will voice the new Big Tex until he’s unveiled on September 27 – opening day at the fair.

For more than a decade, Bill Bragg’s voice greeted visitors to the Texas State Fair in Dallas.

“Howdy, folks! Welcome," was one of the classic catch phrases. But Bragg would also provide other information, such as details on events happening at the Fair that day.  Then, in October, Big Tex burned. “We’ve got a rather tall cowboy with all his clothes burned off," a Dallas Fire Rescue dispatcher said in this recording.

The State Fair of Texas wants your help rebuilding its most recognizable cowboy.

The 52 foot-tall mascot Big Tex was destroyed in October in an electrical fire. He had been a fixture at the fair in Dallas for 60 years.

The State Fair’s Sue Gooding says they’ve launched a website trying to raise about half a million dollars to build a new and improved Big Tex. “This is not just the Big Tex that left us that day,” she says. “We’re working on some re-engineering of Big Tex and of course, this next one will have a fire suppression system built in.”

Good morning. Looks like Austin's entering a cool down! There may be some light showers today, but it looks like clear skies all weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some stories KUT News has been working on:

Governor Rick Perry says the state is moving to immediately to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood. The announcement came after a federal appeals court said Thursday it will not reconsider a decision that says Texas can withhold funds under the Women’s Health Program.

As the Austin Independent School District gets ready to ask voters to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing next May, figures published by the Texas Comptroller show the district has one of the the lowest per-student debt rates among Austin-area school districts. That said, AISD also has the most debt of any district in the area, at $809,435,850. But, calculated on a per-student basis, AISD’s outstanding debt it is $9,492. AISD also has the lowest debt per capita.

A former Texas State University student, 19-year-old Brittany Henderson, has been arrested for making a bomb threat at the school last week. Several buildings were evacuated because of the threat. Henderson was arrested in Bryan on Tuesday and charged with making a terroristic threat, which is a third-degree felony, and making a false alarm, which is a class A misdemeanor.

B.J. Bonnett, via

Key members of the State Fair of Texas staff are coming together this afternoon to start planning next year’s event.

Usually the staff gets several weeks off after the end of the fair before plans start for next year.

"We usually give ourselves about five to six weeks after the close of one season for people to take a few days off and then start collecting thoughts, we immediately start working on budgets. But everything will be moved up this year," Sue Gooding, State Fair of Texas Vice President of Public Relations, says.

That's in part because the staff needs to get to work on how to bring Big Tex back.

Word broke this morning in Dallas that “Big Tex” – the iconic, 52-foot cowboy that greets visitors to the State Fair of Texas – caught fire and burned this morning.

It’s a bizarre end to the State Fair, which closes this Sunday. Big Tex celebrated his 60th birthday this year.

WFAA quotes Mitchell Glieber, the vice president of marketing for the State Fair, as saying it appears to have been an electrical fire. 

"There's obviously some electronics inside of Big Tex that leads to the ability for his mouth to move when he speaks," Glieber said. "I believe there was an electrical short, but that hasn't been confirmed or investigated."

You can follow Twitter hashtag #BigTexFire for more details. 

Update: YouTube member TexasStormChasers was rolling tape on fire dispatch radio when the Big Tex call came in. "There's a tall cowboy with all his clothes burnt off," says one responder. "Howdy folks – it’s hot,” says another.