Nearly a year after being destroyed in a Texas-sized blaze, Big Tex has returned to the state fair.
Texas State Fair patrons attending Friday were again greeted by the famed staple of the annual celebration, though the iconic giant cowboy has grown three feet, to 55 feet, and added a fire-suppression system. His unveiling had to be moved up a day because strong winds began tearing off his covering enough that officials decided to no longer wait, spokeswoman Sue Gooding told The Associated Press
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"We decided that although we wanted to keep it a secret, we needed to go ahead and drop it," Gooding said.
The previous Old Big Tex stood from 1952 until 2012, when an electrical short caused a fire two days before the close of last year's fair. New Big Tex wears a red, white, and blue shirt with stars and a 95-gallon hat. He also wears blue jeans with a large belt buckle, and his boots are adorned with American and Texas flags.
Gooding said the boots are replicas of a Lucchese style from the 1940s.
In his 61st year presiding over the fair, Big Tex's facial features are slightly different — the new one shows more teeth — and his voice has changed.
This year's fair is adding an exhibition to spotlight Big Tex's history, along with a 20-minute video on the rebuilding.
"I love it. I think he looks great," Stephanie Szatan, whose family owns food stands at the fair, told the AP. "I'm glad he's back."
Or, as Texas State Fair officials called it on the website: "The biggest comeback in Texas."
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