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 12th Annual Big Tex® Choice Awards presented by the Dallas Convention & Visitor’s Bureau 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 34 scrumptious semi-finalists that will be continuing on to the next round of judging, taking one step further in their journey to Fair food stardom.
2016 Big Tex Choice Awards Semi-Finalists
|Bacon Wrapped Churros||Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket (with mac ‘n cheese dip)|
|Bacon Wrapped Pork Belly on a Stick||Fried Cookies & Cream Sundae|
|Barn Yard Burger||Fried Jell-O|
|Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers||Fried Prime Rib Quesadill”O”|
|Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia||Funnel Cake Sundae|
|Crunchy Fried Oinkers||Holy Guacamole Balls|
|Dallas’ Fried Bacontilla||Injectable Great Balls of BBQ|
|Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Sliders on a Stick||Loaded Bacon Mashed Potato Egg Roll|
|Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Tater’ Dog||Lollipop Fried Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast on a Stick|
|Deep Fried Cannoli Bites||Pina-A lot-Ta|
|Deep Fried Cheeseburger Stuffed Onion Rings||Seductive Fried Sea Salt Caramel Wrap|
|Deep Fried Chicken Basket||Shrimp Fritters|
|Deep Fried Hawaiian Hoops||Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplin’s|
|Deep Fried Nachos||State Fair Cookie Fries|
|Deep Fried Pulled Pork “Funyun” Dings||State Fair Edible Colas|
|Deep Fried Smoked Salmon & Bacon Croquettes||Texas Fried Buffalo Quail|
|Dorito Bacon Fried Cheese Stick||Texas Fried Pinatacolupa|
The contest kicked off on July 12 with an impressive 55 entries, but not just any tasty treat can compete. One year of experience as a concessionaire at the Fair is required for entry, which means this competition begins long before contestants walk through those ceremony doors at the big event. With food as a major highlight of the Fair each year, these contenders are more than just successful food connoisseurs. They have proved themselves to be authentic representations of the passion behind each year of the Big Tex Choice Awards.
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.
With less than one month left until the ceremony doors swing open for the 12th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards presented by the Dallas Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, August 28 at 2 p.m. in the historic Tower Building at Fair Park. Come cheer on your favorite tasty treat and sample the rest, as the eight finalists go up against a panel of celebrity judges in hopes of snagging one of the two most coveted titles in Fair food – Best Taste and Most Creative!
About the State Fair of Texas
Since its inception in 1886, the State Fair of Texas has celebrated all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment. The State Fair of Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with proceeds helping to preserve and improve Fair Park and underwrite museum, community and scholarship programs for inner city youth and students pursuing agricultural careers. The 2016 exposition runs September 30 through October 23 in Fair Park. Visit BigTex.com for more information.