State Fair of Texas Announces Winners of the 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards

DALLAS, TEXAS – August 28, 2016 – It’s finally here, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the highly-anticipated decision that denotes the ultimate achievement in fair food. Presenting guests with an ample assortment of tasty treats, this year’s finalists proved that there is no shortage of creativity when it comes to the Big Tex® Choice Awards. After tasting all eight foods and carefully evaluating each item, the all-star panel of judges has made its tallies and cast its final votes. Drum roll please…and the winners are: Best Taste goes to Ruth Hauntz for Fried Jell-O®, while Isaac Rousso takes the title of Most Creative for his State Fair Cookie Fries.

After being a concessionaire at the State Fair of Texas for 28 years, Ruth Hauntz is no stranger to the world of Fair food. This is Ruth’s second time to be chosen as a Big Tex Choice Awards finalist, and her first time winning one of the two coveted titles. For the first time in Big Tex Choice Awards history, America’s favorite childhood dessert is given a State Fair of Texas twist! A classic cherry-flavored Jell-O in a panko-crusted breading is flash-fried to perfection and then dusted with powdered sugar. Prepared with a tasty topping of whipped cream and a cherry garnish, this dish has the perfect amount of crunch to compliment the jiggle.

A finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards for the past seven years, Isaac Rousso has now received the Most Creative title two years in a row. Isaac’s State Fair Cookie Fries are a unique play on America’s favorite savory side dish. The cookie fry may look like it needs ketchup, but don’t be fooled by the classic crinkle-cut appearance. Offered in traditional cookie flavors like chocolate chip or sprinkles, these sweet treats are served with your choice of the accompanying strawberry or milk chocolate sauce. Just consider it an undercover cookie in fry-form disguise.

With such a solid list of contenders in the final eight, this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards posed quite a challenge for the judges, who were tasked with picking only two winners. Going up against these winners, and proving to be very worthy opponents, the other foods that made it to the final round include: Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia by Stephen Alade, Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick by Brent & Juan Reaves, Deep Fried Pulled Pork “FUNYUN®” Dings by Chris Howard, Fernie’s Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket with Mac ‘n Cheese Dip by Christi Erpillo, Injectable Great Balls of BBQ by Glen Kusak and Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplins by Clint Probst.

The annual event requires several judges to complete the trying task of taste-testing all eight finalists. This year’s judges were: Don Gay, 8-Time PRCA World Champion Bull Rider and Commentator; Mai Lyn Ngo, founder of Deep Fried Fit, a food and fitness blog; Dan O’Malley, cohost and news director of The Russ Martin Show on 97.1 The Eagle; Kent Rathbun, renowned chef and restaurateur; Tiffinni Young, Dallas native, community leader and Dallas City Councilwoman for District 7. Serving as the sixth judge, audience member Jon Gonzalez was lucky enough to get his name picked from the random drawing and fill the spot of special guest judge. Leading the awards ceremony as emcee was local radio host Michelle Rodriguez of New Country 96.3 KSCS.

If you missed out on the big event and didn’t get to taste all the finalists at the Big Tex Choice Awards, don’t worry – you’ve still got 24 days to try all eight items, plus the slew of other new foods being offered at the Fair this year. Fair fanatics can pick up a Visitor’s Guide which includes a food map that lays out the vendor locations for each of the finalists, making it easy to map out your route and hit all the hot spots along the way. Visitor’s Guides will be available at State Fair Information Booths, as well as online at

Celebrating a decade of decadence in 2014, the annual Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony opened its doors to the public for the first time. A limited number of State Fair fans got the chance to attend the event and serve as taste-testers for the food finalists in the annual competition. Building off the success of the past two years, the Fair once again sold tickets to the event, with all proceeds going to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Program. The 12th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, presented by the Dallas Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, proved to be an equally successful event. Over its 24 year history, the Youth Scholarship Program has awarded scholarships to more than 1,800 students for a total of more than $8.7 million. Eligible recipients include graduating high school seniors from around the state of Texas who have competed in State Fair youth livestock events, as well as graduating seniors from five Fair Park area schools – Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, James Madison, Lincoln, North Dallas and Woodrow Wilson High Schools.

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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 for more information.

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