Very sad news from the great State Fair of Texas today. An icon of the Lone Star State succumbed to an electrical fire and burned.

Non-Texans may not understand the scope of the tragedy. Our state fair is larger than any other. It takes up a huge chunk of downtown Dallas and draws crowds from all over the world. Our fair is so big it’s the only thing that can possibly host the Texas-OU war every year. Even the turkey legs they sell there must come from some kind of king turkey. Big Tex is the big man who hosts the whole thing.

Big Tex is a Texana figure dating back to the Eisenhower era. The 49-foot tall cowboy with the 50-pound belt buckle has greeted fairgoers since 1952. Every year he gets a new outfit and a new recorded greeting to welcome the world to Texas. One of my earliest memories is going to the 1976 fair and being awed by the benevolent giant.

The burning of Big Tex takes a bit of every Texan’s heart out.

Today, only his hands are reported to be intact. The rest is a burnt skeletal frame.

Rest in peace, old friend. And come back better than ever. The State Fair of Texas will not the State Fair of Texas without him.