Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
Bill Bragg has been the voice of fair icon Big Tex for 11 years. The State Fair of Texas said that it decided to not renew Bragg's contract.
Big Tex is getting a new voice.
The State Fair of Texas said that it decided Tuesday to not renew the contract of Bill Bragg, who has been the voice of the fair icon for 11 years.
"I'm not bitter but, boy, am I broken-hearted," Bragg said.
Bragg says there there had been signs of trouble in the past, but nothing that would have led to this. The primary concern had been over his title, Bragg said.
Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said the State Fair intended to bring Bragg back at the end of last year's fair. She declined to discuss the reasons why the contract was not renewed.
Bragg said the end was spelled out long ago.
"You know, today ain't Christmas, but Santa Claus is still around up at the North Pole, and it seems that did not apply at the State Fair," he said.
Bragg said he believes that his decision to do interviews about the electrical fire that destroyed Big Tex in the fall may have been the final straw.
"And everybody lost in this situation," he said. "I lost; the State Fair lost. And the biggest loss is to the people who come to the State Fair, especially the children. For 11 years, they've been used to one voice, and I was prepared to do it until I couldn't do it any long. But, apparently that's not the case."
Big Tex will not switch to prerecorded greetings, Gooding said.
The voicing contract is for a paid position for the 24 days of the fair, Gooding said. A new voice has not yet been selected, she said.
The voice won't be the only change coming for Big Tex after the the official fair greeter burned down last fall. The redesigned version will stand 55 feet tall, three feet taller than the original.
NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.