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A Fiery Legacy: Three Things You Might Not Know About 'Big Tex'

We're all in mourning for Big Tex, the State Fair of Texas giant who burned today. (But fear not, Tex-a-holics: The fair says he'll be back and better than ever when the 2013 fair kicks off next September.) Until then, here are a few classic moments in Big Tex history:

1) Ho, Ho, Howdy

Big Tex was born as a 50-foot-tall Santa Claus in the tiny East Texas town of  Kerens back in 1949. And after a couple of years in a Santa hat, he was sold to the State Fair for $750. With a little retooling, and a fashion makeover, Tex made his gala debut at the State Fair in 1952. The Tyler Morning Telegraph pulls the story together here.

2) A Well-Grounded Voice, Always Live

Bill Bragg has been the voice of Big Tex since the huge dude's 50th birthday in 2002. A few years ago, Bragg did some myth-busting with KERA's Jeff Whittington. Listen as Bragg talks about how he stays grounded (he's not based in the big guy's head, which is a very good thing considering what happened today) and how that legendary voice is never recorded -- Bragg does it live throughout the 24-day fair. 

3) Big Tex Has A Little Brother

Or maybe it's actually a cousin. In Canyon, Texas, stands a 47-foot-tall guy named Tex Randall. The town is trying to raise money to preserve and refurbish the statue, which was created in 1959.

Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.