Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
North Texans remembered and celebrated Big Tex, the State Fair of Texas icon that burned Friday, during a memorial service held by a Dallas funeral home.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The phrase takes on a different meaning when you think of Big Tex, which was destroyed by fire Friday.
"When I saw it on TV, I was just, 'Oh, he just went up in flames,'" said Loretta Pope, holding back fake tears.
A few days after the giant statue at the State Fair of Texas burned, dozens of fans came to memorial for the big guy.
Some were still in denial.
"I couldn't believe when they told me Tex was burning. I'm saying, 'What do you mean he's burning? He's a 100 feet in the air. Who's burning him?'" said Ernie Johnson, who belted out a gospel song at the memorial to remember Big Tex.
The owners of the Golden Gate Funeral Home put together the event, complete with popcorn, cotton candy and fair games for the kids.
While everyone in the crowd laughed and joked during the service, there were some people that did feel sad.
One woman said Big Tex reminded her of the times she would go to the fair as a kid with her parents. Another woman said she always knew where to go if she got lost at the fair: meet at Big Tex.
Pope, a native of Ohio, said she remembers seeing the statue when she moved to Dallas and was struck by how big he was. Pope said when she saw Big Tex, she knew the fair was better than any state fair she went to in Ohio.
"The Ohio State Fair is cows, chickens, dogs and things. You know what the Ohio State Fair looks like," she joked.
Guests at the memorial said they can't wait for Big Tex to rise again next year. But they said they hope he looks a little different.
"Maybe update his clothes a little bit?" Pope said. "He don't need no earring in his ear, neither. He just needs to look like Big Tex."
Johnson said he'd like Big Tex to look like the folks that he lives around near Fair Park -- "a little darker," he laughed.