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Big Tex has come a long way—if not geographically, then certainly in terms of his cultural significance. He started his career in 1949 as a giant Santa Claus statue, beckoning holiday shoppers to the tiny town of Kerens, about an hour southeast of Dallas. Two years later, he was sold to the State Fair of Texas for a mere $750 (about $8,850 today). The iron-and-papier-mâché statue soon shed the Santa suit and long, white beard for denim jeans, boots, and a nifty Western shirt. In the seven decades since taking up his post as the fair’s master of ceremonies and mascot, the big man has transformed from a solemn, silent, and honestly kind of creepy figure to a treasured state symbol with a welcoming, folksy…
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