Big Tex & His Big Fair

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My interest in the Texas State Fair comes directly from my fascination with American pop culture. I have a quirky obsession with photographing people in their constant pursuit of instant gratification through excess: extravagant food creations, adrenaline driven hobbies, materialistic flamboyance and unwavering gender roles.

Surrounding the Cotton Bowl stadium, the fair is presented like an exuberant wedding cake sprinkled throughout with ketchup and mustard stands alongside police booths that raise above the ground like lifeguard stations. No corn dog goes undressed and no petty crime goes unnoticed. The uninterrupted availability of stimulus at the fair is overwhelming: fried spaghetti and meatballs, a temporary Taylor Swift museum, a gang-like array of elderly folks readjusting their dentures on motorized scooters, gawking faces of children playing with dirty lambs and porcupines while munching on cotton candy and, at the center of it all, a talking monolith.

Big Tex, a sixteen meters mechanical statue and cultural ambassador, welcomes fairgoers and makes announcements in English and Spanish. Big Tex gets photographed as much as the Eiffel Tower, while people imitate his emblematic stance. He caught on fire on his 60th birthday in 2012. I imagine in the minds of many kids this incident was on par to the Hindenburg disaster. The cause of the fire was a faulty electrical panel in charge of keeping Big Tex's clothing inflated. Walking on an empty parking lot and leaving the fair for the day I hold on to that one image: a black cloud of soot rising from the flames that slowly consume Big Tex as he holds his friendly wave and doesn't stop smiling at the baffled crowd of confused Americans in their abiding search of good clean family fun.

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