LAST CALL: Voice of Big Tex is quieted yet again

An employee relations problem has left Texas' biggest spokesman

speechless. We're talking, of course, about Big Tex, the 52-foot-tall

cowboy who greets state fair visitors with a hearty "Howdy, folks!"



Last year the man who twanged for Big Tex, moved to Arizona. An

unintended media circus ensued with reporters covering auditions for his

replacement.



For the winner, Sonny Ray Stolz of Houston, the honor seemed almost

religious.



He spoke of getting in touch with his "inner Tex." But after 24 straight

12-hour days in a booth he described as a "porta-potty with

electronics," the man behind the curtain became disillusioned. He quit

and sent a bitter statement to the press claiming that he got no

respect.



Fair officials rebutted, claiming Stolz made himself too visible by,

among other things, handing out business cards. "The icon is Big Tex,

not the voice," scolded PR SVP Nancy Wiley.



They are now taking a much lower-key approach to finding someone with

Texas-sized pipes, but not a Texas-sized ego.



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