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Everything Old New Again At State Fair Of Texas

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - With all the usual fanfare, the State Fair of Texas embarked on its annual 24-day run on Friday.  The annual first day parade wound its way through downtown Dallas.  It's a new fair and a new day.

There is a new Big Tex with a new voice. Friday was the first time he's uttered a word since that disastrous fire nearly a year ago.  "Howdy, folks, this is Big Tex.  Welcome to the State Fair of Texas," said the voice from the fair icon.

Taller and more colorful, Big Tex 2.0 made his familiar , booming greeting before ploughing on into his routine fair announcements. Everybody has an opinion.  "I love Big Tex," said Dorothy Lewis of Richardson adding, "he looks great and he's got a great sounding voice. Glad to have him back."   Her daughter, Patty Leeper of Rockwall, echoed her approval.  "Oh I think he's beautiful.  I love his voice and he's just perfect. I think he's great."

Big Tex is one of many familiar fair attractions. There are the traditional corny dogs and midway rides. No fair is complete without a trip to the automobile building.   It's even attractive for those too young to be have a license. A simulator lets the young and old---mostly young---try to drive off-road in a make believe high-end pickup.  Nine-year-old Cayden Marks posted a very competitive time with adults. "I have a golf car at my grandma's house," he said.  "Me and my uncle, we like to drive it around."

Of course, the state fair is more than games and rides.

There's livestock, and even a first-ever ostrich race with human jockeys. CBS 11 News reporter Bud Gillett met some of the avian competitors, compliments of owner Joe Hedrick.  "They'll be running 30 mph with our people on them. And they're lightweight people, 130 pounds is the max on them. They're very strong in their legs and back."

Hedrick said the birds are not harmed and even outweigh their jockeys by a factor of 4-to-1.  "We put pads on them --soft pads-- and the jockeys sit on the back of those pads and hold on to them," he said.

State fair officials want to remind everyone that you can't buy food or get on rides with cash; you have to have coupons instead.  But don't worry if you have some left over; they'll be good again next year.

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