It’s that time of year again! State Fair concessionaires are ready to debut their latest and greatest edible creations to the public. Following in the footsteps of last year’s success, the 13th Annual Big Tex® Choice Awards returns bigger and “batter” than ever. Whether your palate craves a “down home” delicacy or prefers a dish worthy of the name “holy guacamole,” this year’s assortment of tasty treats will not disappoint. Fair fans can now get a taste of the competition from beginning to end with an exclusive glimpse into the preliminary rounds of this annual event.
For the first time in history, the State Fair of Texas is excited to announce the names of the delicious semi-finalists that will be continuing on to the next round of judging, taking one step further in their journey to Fair food stardom.
2017 Big Tex Choice Awards Semi-Finalists
- Beer Battered Beef JerkyBeer Battered Beef Jerky
- Cajun Fried Deviled Eggs
- Crawfish Lollipop
- Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Mozzarella with Jalapeno Ranch
- Deep Fried Breakfast Cupcake
- Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick
- Deep Fried Fruit Loops
- Deep Fried Reuben
- Deep Fried Root Beer Float with Dragon’s Breath
- Dreamy Drunken Sopapilla Cheesecake Bar
- Fat Smooth
- Fried Arroz Con Pollo
- Fried Cheesecake Stuffed Apple Sundae
- Fried El Paso
- Fried Mango Loco
- Fried Redneck Wedding Cake Balls
- Fried Sloppy Joe Flautas with ‘Not Cho’ Fries
- Fried Texas Dirt
- Fried Texas Sheet Cake
- Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger
- Gulf Coast Fish Bowl
- Oreo Beer
- Pinot Noir Popcorn
- Ramen Grasshopper Cookie
- Southern Fried Chicken Monte Cristo
- Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat
- Texas Fried Cowboy Fritters
- The Tamale Donut
- Tipsy Topsy Catfish on a Stick
Building on the success of 2016’s event, the Fair is excited to announce a few enhancements that will be debuting during this year’s competition. The stakes have now been raised with a third category joining the award lineup. Three winners will be crowned in 2017’s ceremony, receiving awards for “Best Taste – Sweet,” “Best Taste – Savory,” and “Most Creative.” With the addition of a third category, the number of semi finalists has increased to 30, and the top 10 foods will be selected as finalists.
Never before released to the public, the unique selection process used in the annual competition is headed up by a panel of internal judges and requires “blind judging” from start to finish, meaning the panel does not know which concessionaire is behind each food creation. This allows for the scoring to be totally based on the food entry itself and leaves no room for bias toward or against concessionaires, since their identities are not revealed to the panel. Contestants put their concessionaire creativity to the test by coming up with an enticing name and description for their original concoctions – then comes the first round of preliminary judging. Faced with a solid list of tempting treats, the judges base their choices solely on which food name and description sounds the most appealing to their personal palette, just like a fairgoer might do while at the fair. In the end, 34 snacks reigned superior over the rest and have continued on to the next round.
Over the next several weeks, the second round of preliminary judging will begin and these edible innovations will have to prove to the panel of judges that they are just as delicious as they sound. The tasting round consists of judging each semi-finalist on, at minimum, four main ingredients of a finalist-worthy concoction: uniqueness, presentation, creativity and, of course, taste.
The judges will also have to defend their rankings against the seemingly simple yet crucial question – how likely is a fairgoer to actually buy the item? By mid-August, anticipation will be at an ultimate high when the eight Fair food finalists are announced! Even if your cuisine of choice falls short of the finals, concessionaires can still choose to introduce their food at their stand as a “new food” during this year’s Fair.
Tickets to the 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards Judging / Tasting are $100. Tickets to the event are now on sale and allow you to be the first to taste the 10 finalist foods. Included with your tickets is one admission ticket to the State Fair, a Fair-branded baseball cap, and a commemorative Big Tex refillable cup. All proceeds of the event go to the State Fair Youth Scholarship Fund.