The State Fair of Texas has narrowed down the list of finalists for the 17th annual Big Tex Choice Awards, its much-vaunted competition of various fried foods that will be served at the 2021 event.
There are now 10 finalists, who will compete to win in three categories: savory, sweet, and most creative.
This year, 43 entries were submitted by 26 concessionaires, and 32 were selected as semi-finalists. The final winners will be selected by a panel of judges at the Big Tex Choice Awards event on Sunday, August 29.
In prior years, they've made the Big Tex Choice Awards an increasingly hyped event with lots of fanfare and an effort to ramp up the celebrity value of their judges. But this year's will be closed to the public, due to the you-know-what.
Crispy Crazy Corn, Ruth Hauntz: Whole kernel corn is battered and fried, then topped with pulled pork, pineapple slaw, jalapeño crema, and cilantro.
Deep Fried I-35, Clint and Gretchen Probst: Fried kolache dough topped with brisket, slices of peach, and barbecue glaze made with peaches and Dr Pepper.
Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Gourmet Royale: Gumbo balls with Gulf shrimp, chicken, crab, and andouille sausage are rolled in saltine cracker and breadcrumb batter, then fried, then topped with chicken-fried okra spears and served with a side of dark gumbo roux sauce and saltines.
Lucky Duck Dumplin', Bert Concessions: Fried dumplings filled with fluffy cream cheese, duck bacon, and corn, served with Thai chili dip.
Pork Shots, Glen and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller: Smoked sausage is wrapped with bacon to form a tiny bowl that gets filled with mac and cheese and sprinkled with barbecue rub.
The Armadillo, James Barrera: Cookie butter ice cream sandwich has two armadillo-shaped cookies, made with a branding iron, sandwiching cookie butter semifreddo with cookie butter drizzle.
Brisket Brittle, Ruth Hauntz: Like peanut brittle, but replace the peanuts with Texas brisket.
Deep Fried Halloween, Isaac Rousso: Chewy pretzel is fried, then bathed in candy corn syrup, then piped with orange and white icing, then stacked with Halloween candies like M&M's, Reese's Pieces, Mini-Twix, Oreo crumbles, and candy corn, then topped with marshmallow whip cream, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Hershey's chocolate syrup caramel sauce, and candy corn drizzle.
Fernie's Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake, Winter Family Concessions: Chunks of cake doughnuts, English toffee morsels, and almonds are blended with custard, dipped in an "egg product" and panko and vanilla cookie crumbs, and fried. It's topped with mocha coffee whipped cream and a mini chocolate covered toffee bar.
Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake, Michelle Edwards: Texas-shaped pumpkin cake with vanilla glaze, caramel, and whipped cream.
The 2021 State Fair of Texas will open on Friday, September 24, and will run through Sunday, October 17. Here's how to get every possible discount.