Little Big Tex: The gentlemanly, non-spittin' image of the Big Guy.

Little Big Tex: The gentlemanly, non-spittin' image of the Big Guy.

David Woo

The silent cowboy rode in from the north, a golf cart with padded seats serving as his stagecoach.

Just like that, there was a new little sheriff in town.

Little Big Tex, the official mascot of the 2015 State Fair of Texas, debuted amid Friday's opening-day hoopla at Fair Park, just like Big Tex, only smaller - a mini-version of the iconic big guy who doesn't have to be put away at Fair's end for an 11-month hibernation.

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"We always get asked to bring Big Tex to events, but we can't do that with the 55-foot version," said State Fair of Texas spokeswoman Karissa Condoianis. "This is a way to have him year-round."

She said the mascot will appear throughout the grounds, at places like the auto show or the livestock arena.

Several performers will play the role throughout the Fair's three-and-a-half-week run, she said, wearing the costume for an hour at a time, at most. It can get stuffy in there.

Not even 9 a.m. and little Big Tex already needed a breather. And then it was time for another TV appearance.

Not even 9 a.m. and little Big Tex already needed a breather. And then it was time for another TV appearance.

Marc Ramirez

Big Tex has Dickies jeans; little Big Tex has Dickies jeans. Big Tex has a big hat; little Big Tex has a big hat.

Big Tex has Lucchese boots; little Big Tex has - well, from the looks of it, little Big Tex has Uggs.

Don't ask him about them, though. This rough-riding wrangler doesn't talk. He's a mascot. Sort of like Mickey Mouse, but more rugged.

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Instead, as the little big man burst through Fair Park's virtual swinging saloon doors at 4 a.m. Friday, he made himself known via gestures, giving the thumbs-up and clutching Fletcher's Corny Dogs on early-morning news shows.

"His personality is playful, youthful and gentlemanly," Condoianis said.

As such, he happily waved and pointed, blew kisses and spooned imaginary chow into his mouth.

But mostly he posed for selfies - and that was before the gates even opened to the public.

At 8:30 a.m., a golf cart rolled little Big Tex down Fair Park's Lone Star Boulevard for yet another TV appearance near the Tower Building. That's when he found out how lonely it can be out there on the trail.

As the cameras prepared to roll, Fair staff checked his kerchief and straightened his collar, filling him in on the day's ever-changing itinerary as he listened in gentlemanly, gape-mouthed silence.

TV crew members asked him to pose for social-media photos, but when it came time to go on-air, he was relegated to backdrop status.

Afterward, as he waited for his handler, he fidgeted and paced, alone as a tumbleweed on the open range.

If this doesn't make you go "Awwwwwwww," then your blood runs as cold as a cast-iron commode.

If this doesn't make you go "Awwwwwwww," then your blood runs as cold as a cast-iron commode.

Marc Ramirez

Then it was time for a break. The gates would be opening soon, and he needed to gear up for a high-noon appearance with Mario Lopez, the popular, abundantly-cologned host of Emmy-Award-winning entertainment news show Extra, who was visiting the Fair.

Finally, Robert Davis, the State Fair of Texas public-relations staffer acting as the mascot's handler, told him it was time to hit the trail again.

This time, he would be no lone star: As the cart ferried him down the bustling midway, rich with the scent of cotton candy, fairgoers and vendors called out and waved.

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"Look, it's Big Tex!" Or, "Howdy, folks!"

At Big Tex Circle, where celebrity-host Lopez wowed the crowds in shades and a tight gray T-shirt, the mascot once again was granted the briefest of interactions, but it didn't matter.

Back on Lone Star Boulevard, the crowds pounced upon him as though he were a midway messiah, queueing up for photos and calling out his name: Young couples, an Aggies fan with an A&M-outfitted pup, tie-dye-shirted toddlers, a guy with a soft drink balanced on his motorized wheelchair, a tiny-voiced boy who beckoned for his attention by calling, "Hey, Little Text!"

The cowboy complied, showboating and flexing his muscles and swooping down to swap high-fives with kids. A little blonde girl walked up and gave him a hug.

Davis, his handler, could only watch. It would be 20 minutes before he would be able to get little Big Tex back to the office.

"I've lost control," he said, smiling and shaking his head. "The people love him."

On Fair Park's Lone Star Boulevard, little Big Tex posed with his many fans -- including a dog with glasses reflecting Big Tex himself.

On Fair Park's Lone Star Boulevard, little Big Tex posed with his many fans -- including a dog with glasses reflecting Big Tex himself.

Marc Ramirez
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