The news that ride and food coupon grosses gave the State Fair of Texas the second-best year in history was tempered by what is believed to have been an electrical fire that destroyed the event’s iconic, 52-foot-tall Big Tex mascot last Friday during the statue’s 60th birthday year.

“It was national news,” said Sue Gooding, fair president of public relations. “At one point, there were seven satellite trucks here covering it. We had memorials placed all week...

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