Last week, I was in line for some coupons at the fair. A gentleman, along with two ladies, all of whom I can only kindly describe as seeming like they were on a lot of meth, approached the window screaming at the attendant.
"Where is Big Tex?"
Because nothing breaks the stance of a bouffant-ed lifetime State Fair employee, she chuckled and said, "For real? You can't find him? Just go around that corner and if you don't see him, you got bigger problems, hon."
We giggled as he walked away, his urgency and volume foreshadowing the conclusion of an eventful fair season neither of us could have predicted. The fair is gone, and this year we lost Big Tex.
See also: - R.I.P. Big Tex: 25 photos in memoriam
Going to the closing night of the fair has long been a favorite pastime. The carnies are easy to negotiate with on the last day, allowing for a free ride here and there. The bullies running the games are suddenly generous with those Rasta Bananas and extra tries. The food vendors are counting down the hours from a month of hard work, eager to celebrate their success. The good vibes are tangible.
The final half-hour is a bizarre sight: You're there for the breaking down of rides, or able to walk up to the giant inflatable turkey leg previously hanging from the German food tent. Watching the fair dissolve has a dark, lonely quality. A quiet reminder of its temporary status. It always comes back, but it also always goes away. And starting next year it will always be different.
The vigil at what was once Big Tex's feet contained burning Santería, candles, signs and sacrificial Corny Dogs. There were photos of children crying in front of Tex, alone near that picket fence. A couple smiling under his gaze in 1962. Photos of parents, and photos of grandparents.
This will be the line of demarcation now; a generation of Dallas will only know the new Big Tex, however he comes to fruition.
The promise to make him bigger and better gives me anxiety. I'm scared he will be hunky or his smile too gleaming and Disney-white. I'm sad this new generation of photos at his feet will no longer match the ones of parents and grandparents.
It's not change I am scared of, it's forgetting we lost something in the process I fear. And if he must be rebuilt -- and he must be rebuilt -- I beg you to ditch the hyper-realistic robot path and consider cornmeal or sweet tea. Or marble. Something fitting of not a mascot, but an icon.