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Big Tex to Rise Again - Even Taller?

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.

As you may know by now, Big Tex, the 52-foot tall talking cowboy statue that welcomed visitors to the State Fair for 60 years was destroyed in what was determined to be an electrical fire on Friday.

Today, State Fair staff will begin to plan his comeback. They’re trying to determine if his steel frame can be reused and what options they’ll have for rebuilding his famous face.

"Everything will have to be remade," says Gooding. "The hands were not damaged in [the fire] but if we do go to a different type of material then we would go ahead and replace the hands at that time too. It's just in the very, very early stages... Then we'll be able to move forward and determine what our goals are and meet with some designers and then determine whether or not the steel structure will still be a part of it and, if so, did the integrity remain in tact that it can be used."

Gooding says organizers have already agreed on a few things.

“I definitely think he’ll be recognizable as far as the character," Gooding says. "I also think we’re going to take this opportunity though to include new engineering and technology techniques that were not available or that we did not utilize over the last 60 years.  So this does give us an opportunity to at least examine different avenues yet, at the same time, Big Tex will remain Big Tex.”

Big Tex could be taller in 2013. Organizers have discussed raising his height from 52 to 60 feet—in honor of his 60 years at the fair.

Gooding says the Big Tex tragedy has reinforced just what an icon he's been in Texas but has also revealed his broad appeal.

"We've heard from people all over the country. I think the first actual dollar bill that we received was from a young child in Wisconsin," Gooding says. "We have a big responsibility to bring him back, make him recognizable and be here on opening day of the 2013 state fair."

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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