Big Tex Makes His Debut One Day Early

The new and improved Big Tex was supposed to make his big debut on the State Fair of Texas' opening day, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

"Unfortunately, the wind has picked up speed and is negatively impacting the curtain that has been hoisted in place to shield him from public view," fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding wrote in a news release.

His reveal came as a surprise to those working at Fair Park.

"We were surprised," said D.J. Thomas, an electrician. "We were trying to figure out when they [were] going to unveil him. The helicopters kept swirling, and we were working over in automobile building."

"I'm elated," said Karla Ward, who will be working at a concession booth. "I'm fascinated, I'm excited, I can't explain it -- I can't believe we're seeing it."

Chopper 5 had already caught a sneak peek of Big Tex when it flew over Fair Park earlier Thursday. His cowboy hat, part of his face and his red, white and blue shirt could be seen.

Big Tex is bigger and better than ever. He weighs 19,000 pounds more, bringing him to 25,000 pounds. He's 3 feet taller and now stands 55 feet tall. Big Tex can also withstand 100 mph winds, making him ready for any Texas weather.

His new duds created by Dickies and a smart pair of boots from Lucchese instantly drew attention. The boots are decorated with artwork, including designs of the Texas and American flags, the State Capitol, bluebonnets, longhorns and other Lone Star State-inspired icons seen on the sides.

But not everyone was excited about his new look.

"He looks awful," Thomas said. "Three chins, evil brows, he looks confused, like, 'Huh?' That's what I think."

Now the big question remains: What will Big Tex sound like? State Fair fans will have to wait until Friday to find that out.

Bill Bragg, the longtime voice for Big Tex, was let go by the fair earlier this year. Bragg stopped by Big Tex Circle to see what the rebuilt version on Thursday.

"For me the worst part of [not being here] is missing you guys, all you guys out here on the midway," Bragg said to two women who approached him. "Because I love you with all my heart and soul and I'm gonna be missing you and thinking about you every day during the fair."

Bragg told NBC 5 he does not know who his replacement will be, but that he wishes them luck.  He said he'd be willing to give some pointers to whomever the fair has chosen.

A fire destroyed the old Big Tex near the end of the 2012 State Fair of Texas, while the fair was celebrating the iconic cowboy's 60th birthday.

Big Tex's 75-gallon hat, 50-pound belt buckle and slow drawl -- "Howdy, folks!" -- had been greeting fair visitors since 1952.

NBC DFW's Ray Villeda and Ben Russell contributed to this report.

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