It’s finally here, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the highly-anticipated decision that denotes the ultimate achievement in fair food. The 13th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, presented by VisitDallas, provided guests with an ample assortment of tasty treats. This year’s finalists proved that there is no shortage of creativity when it comes to this competition. After tasting all ten 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 – Sweet” goes to Clint Probst for his Gulf Coast Fish Bowl, while Tom Grace’s Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger takes home the titles for both “Best Taste – Savory” and “Most Creative.”
A Big Texas Choice Awards Veteran, Clint Probst is back for his ninth year at the State Fair of Texas. His creations have made the semi-finals eight times in a row. This year’s offering is a whimsical drink featuring all the flavors of your favorite tropical coast with a kick! The fish bowl is grounded with gravel made of Nerds® candy, then filled with a blue tropical-flavored punch. An alcoholic beverage, you can be assured that the Swedish Fish® swimming through the ice are enjoying themselves!
With 28 years as a concessionaire under his belt, Tom Grace is no rookie in the world of Fair food. This is his second time to make the finals in the Big Tex Choice Awards and first time winning a title. To create his Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger, he begins with two funnel cakes for “buns” that are fried to a golden crunch. The first funnel bun is topped with a juicy, freshly-grilled burger patty, a heaping helping of crispy bacon, and gooey queso! It is completed with another funnel bun and generously dusted with powdered sugar.
With such a solid list of contenders in the final ten, this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards posed quite a challenge for the judges, who were tasked with picking the winning dishes. Going up against these winners, and proving to be very worthy opponents, the other foods that made it to the final round include: Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick by Chris Howard, Deep Fried Froot Loops® by Milton Whitley, Fat Smooth by Tami Nevins-Mayes, Fernie’s Fried Texas Sheet Cake by Winter Family Concessions, Pinot Noir Popcorn by Robert Parish, Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat by Melissa Harrison, Texas Fajita Fries by Nick Bert, and The Tamale Donut by Justin Martinez.
The annual event requires several judges to face the trying task of taste-testing all ten finalists. This year’s judges were Adam Medrano – Deputy Mayor Pro Tem and Dallas City Council Member, District 2; Casey Donahew – country artist of Casey Donahew Band; Jack Perkins – restaurateur and owner of Dallas restaurant, Maple & Motor; Lisa Taylor – On-Air Personality for 99.5 The Wolf; Rocky “ROCK-T” Turner – national radio and television personality. Serving as the sixth judge, 10-year-old audience member Cali Villacci was lucky enough to get her ticket picked from the random drawing and fill the spot of special guest judge. Leading the awards ceremony as emcee was once again 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 ten 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 BigTex.com.
This year’s event sold out! Opening its doors to the public for the first time in 2014, the Big Tex Choice Awards offered a limited number of State Fair fans the chance to attend and serve as taste testers for the food finalists in the annual competition. Building off the success of the past few years, the Fair once again sold tickets to the event, with all proceeds going to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Program. The 13th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, presented by VisitDallas, proved to be an equally successful event. Over its 25-year history, the Youth Scholarship Program has awarded scholarships to more than 2,000 students for a total of more than $10 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 all proceeds helping to preserve and improve Fair Park; underwrite museum, community, and scholarship programs for inner-city youth and students pursuing agricultural careers; and help improve State Fair operations. The 2017 exposition runs September 29 through October 22 in Fair Park. Visit BigTex.com for more information.