For 30 years the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Texas has run the Texas-OU game ball from Austin to Dallas. Their counterparts at the University of Oklahoma did the same.
But neither will be making the trip this year. It’s not the death of a tradition – just another temporary casualty of the government shutdown.
The UT Naval ROTC unit is normally a part of the annual torchlight parade, part of a huge pep rally in anticipation of the Red River Shootout in Dallas. As part of the ceremonies at the base of the UT Tower, Coach Mack Brown would normally hand the game ball to the commanding officer of the Naval ROTC student battalion.
Update: The Associated Press reports a deep fried Cuban roll took top honors at the State Fair of Texas’ “Big Tex Choice Awards” this year: That's shredded pork, ham, cheese, pickles and sauce, rolled in dough and thrown in a deep fat fryer.
Another foodstuff profiled below – Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (which is exactly like it sounds) – took the prize for “Most Creative” entrée. The State Fair opens Sept. 27.
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.