Fair season is in the air, and with it, the irresistible aroma of fried food. It’s time to discover who will be crowned the winners of the 18th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards.
Participants in the 2022 Big Tex Choice Awards submitted a total of 51 entries with 35 advancing as semi-finalists — 19 savory and 16 sweet. Of these 35 entries, 10 will compete live in the final round at this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event. The members of the judging panel must decide which “Treats of Texas” will take home the titles of “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative.” This panel of distinguished judges, whose backgrounds range from local celebrities to renowned chefs, have the deliciously difficult job of tasting these deep-fried delicacies and crowning the winning dishes.
Without further ado, the State Fair of Texas is proud to present this year’s judges who will serve as taste-testers for the iconic competition:
Brad Batson – Karbach Brewing Company
Brad Batson is a co-founder of Karbach Brewing Company and led sales and marketing efforts for the brewery before taking on an advisory role. Prior to joining the Karbach team, Brad was the national sales director at Belukus Marketing for more than a decade. Additionally, he worked at C.R. Goodman Distributing alongside David Greenwood, Ken Goodman, and Chuck Robertson before joining forces to establish the brewery.
Hiawatha Williams – Williams Chicken
Hiawatha Williams has dedicated his life to helping others through his business and leadership. A native Texan, Williams worked for a national fast-food corporation before establishing Williams Chicken in 1987. The franchise has 40 restaurants in operation and more than 500 employees. Williams Chicken plans to expand outside of Texas in 2023. Hiawatha Williams is proud to have mentored youth and provided employment and resources to those in need through the success of Williams Chicken.
Lance Barrow – CBS Sports
Iconic CBS Sports producer Lance Barrow produced a majority of CBS Sports golf coverage from 1997 until 2020. He worked his first Masters in 1977 as a spotter for Pat Summerall and accepted the Emmy Award for CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2004 Masters. In addition to his golf coverage, Barrow served as coordinating producer of “The NFL on CBS” and was the lead game producer for two Super Bowls, including Super Bowl 50 – the most-watched single broadcast in television history on an all-or-part basis. The Texan graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1978 and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas, making trips to the State Fair of Texas to dutifully serve as a creative arts cooking contest judge.
Maricsa Trejo – La Casita Bakeshop
Pastry chef Maricsa Trejo has been shaking and baking things up in the kitchen since 2014. She worked in New York City under renowned pastry chef Stephen Collucci and baked around the world before founding her own bakery, La Casita Bakeshop. What started as a wholesale bakery working out of a brewpub has now blossomed into a successful brick-and-mortar store in Richardson, Texas. Maricsa received a Rising Stars Award by Star Chefs Magazine in 2021 and was recently nominated for a James Beard Award.
Rob “Big Rob” Maiden – ManiAACs
Rob “Big Rob” Maiden is livin’ it up on the dance floor as Captain of The Mavs ManiAACs dance team. The original all-male performance squad of the NBA has been performing for its beloved Mavs fans since 2002. Rob and the ManiAACs have also made exclusive appearances outside of the Mavs home games including shows in Shanghai and four NBA All-Star performances. The Mavs ManiAACs have starred on national television productions like, “The Tonight Show,” “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Fox & Friends,” TNT, and ESPN. They even made it to the Top 48 semifinal, Hollywood round, on season five of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and have worked with entertainment legends like Cedric the Entertainer, Ludacris, and Kevin Hart. “Big Rob” will certainly bring the ManiAACs energy to the Big Tex Choice Awards.
Sybil Summers – Audacy
Radio personality Sybil Summers from Arlington, Texas has worked at Audacy since 2001. If you tune in to 98.7 KLUV, you have probably heard her on the “Afternoon Drive” show during your commute. Her radio experience includes talk, sports, alternative, and public affairs. Outside of radio, she has also worked at Texas Motor Speedway, AT&T Stadium and TXA 21’s show “Plugged Into DFW.” Sybil is thankful for the opportunities she has had in her career, like interviewing A-list celebrities such as Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Jared Leto, and more. When she is not working, she enjoys working with Dallas Animal Services, DFW Rescue Me, and Legacy Humane Society, spending time with her own dog, and staying active.
The 2022 Big Tex Choice Awards will take place on Sunday, August 28, starting at 2:00 p.m. Although this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event is closed to the public, you can follow the event live on our social media channels – @StateFairofTX. RSVP on the Facebook event page, available at BigTex.com/BTCA, and you’ll receive notifications in real-time as the competition takes place. The 2022 State Fair of Texas opens on Friday, September 30 and runs through Sunday, October 23. You can purchase season passes and premium tickets online at BigTex.com.