Texas State Fair Announces Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists

These might be the tastiest awards in Texas

Deep Fried I-35
Deep Fried I-35 (© 2021 Dick Patrick Studios)

DALLAS – Texas State Fair announced on Aug. 11 that ten finalists will be competing in three taste categories -- “Best Taste - Savory,” “Best Taste - Sweet” and Most Creative.” This will be the fair’s 17th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards.

The State Fair is well-known for its creative and crazy food creations, like deep-fried potato salad and deep-fried latte for coffee lovers. This year’s finalists continued to deliver on the shock factor of menu items.

In the “Savory” category, Crispy Crazy Corn, Deep-Fried I-35, Deep-Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Lucky Duck Dumplin’ and Pork Shots all made the cut.

The Armadillo Brisket Brittle, Deep Fried Halloween, Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake and Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake can all be found in the “Sweet” category.

Here’s what tastes fairgoers can expect from each finalist:

Crispy Crazy Corn

These crispy corn nuggets are made from individually battered, fried sweet whole kernel corn, and then dashed with secret seasoning. The dish is topped off with smoked pulled pork, tangy pineapple slaw and drizzled with jalapeño crema with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Crispy Crazy Corn (State Fair of Texas)

Deep-Fried I-35

The Deep-Fried I-35 draws from cities and towns along Texas’ I-35. It is a deep-fried kolache topped with peaches in Dr. Pepper sauce and smoked brisket. The finished item is then sprinkled with powdered sugar. The name and ingredients are supposed to be an edible tribute to Texas road trips.

Deep-Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls

These seafood gumbo balls have a base made from a dark, rich and savory roux with a New Orleans flavor. The seafood gumbo balls are loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, stewed chicken, blue crab meat and andouille sausage with a saltine cracker and breadcrumb crust. The seafood gumbo balls are served with a side of dark gumbo roux sauce, a small bottle of hot sauce and saltine crackers and topped with chicken fried okra spears.

Lucky Duck Dumplin’

Lucky Duck Dumplin’ is a pastry filled with a combination of rich, fluffy cream cheese, blended with duck bacon and roasted sweet corn with herbs and spices. These dumplings are deep fried until golden-brown then served with a sweet and spicy Thai chili dipping sauce and finished with a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Lucky Duck Dumplin’ (State Fair of Texas)

Pork Shots

These Pork Shots have smoked sausage at the base of the shot, which is wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon. The bacon forms a tiny bowl filled with creamy mac and cheese. The outside is sprinkled with a secret sweet, spicy BBQ rub.

The Armadillo

The Armadillo Cookie Butter Ice Cream Sandwich is even shaped like an armadillo. The cookies sandwiching the ice cream are made with a branding iron. In between is made-from-scratch, semi-frozen cookie butter ice cream. The complete product is dusted with buttery sugar.

Brisket Brittle

This sweet treat is peanut brittle with a twist. Instead of peanuts throughout the brittle, there are pieces of Texas brisket.

Deep-Fried Halloween

Deep-fried Halloween is exactly what it sounds like. The dish tops a large deep-fried pretzel with candy corn syrup, rainbow sprinkles, powdered sugar, a variety of Halloween candy favorites and candy corn. The candy-covered pretzel is then finished off with marshmallow whip cream and drizzled with caramel syrup and candy corn syrup. Buttercream icing is pumped inside of the pretzel.

Deep-fried Halloween (State Fair of Texas)

Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake

The Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake takes old-fashioned cake donuts, breaks them up and pours a mixture of baking morsels, English toffee and crunchy almonds over them to make it more like a cake. The cakes have a gooey center and are covered in vanilla cookie crumbs and panko. The cakes are served with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, toffee bits and a scoop of mocha coffee whipped cream topped with a wrapped toffee bar. Regular whipped cream is also available to substitute the mocha whipped cream.

Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake

This is a Texas-shaped pumpkin cake with a gooey vanilla glaze, caramel, topped with whipped cream and lightly sprinkled with a secret spice.

The winner of each category will be announced Aug. 29. The 2021 State Fair will open on Friday, Sept. 24, and will run through Sunday, Oct. 17.

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About the Author:

Raven Jordan is a digital and social intern at KSAT 12. She majored in digital and print journalism at UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism.