Texas' biggest state fair is going even bigger on food this year. For the first time in the 13-year history of the State Fair of Texas' Big Tex Choice Awards, 10 dishes, up from eight, have been named finalists for 2017.

What this means: Everything really is bigger, including the concessions competition, at the State Fair of Texas, which will run Sept. 29 through Oct. 22. If you're the type who taste-tests every Big Tex Choice Awards finalist -- as many devoted fair fans do -- you'll be tasting two extra dishes this year. Wear pants with an elastic waist.

The list of Big Tex Choice Awards finalists proves State Fair concessionaires have tried to fry almost everything on Earth. But they still came up with some surprising additions. 

The list of Big Tex Choice Awards finalists for the 2017 State Fair of Texas:

a.k.a., the 10 dishes you'll be talking about this fall in Dallas

Deep-Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick by Sherry and Chris Howard

Deep-Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick by Sherry and Chris Howard

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Deep-Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick

Bite-size balls of chicken-noodle soup are fried and served on a stick.
Deep-Fried Froot Loops by Gracie and Milton Whitley 

Deep-Fried Froot Loops by Gracie and Milton Whitley 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Deep-Fried Froot Loops

This sweet dish starts with colorful Froot Loops cereal mixed with marshmallows. They're then fried and topped with powdered sugar.
Fat Smooth by Tami Nevins-Mayes 

Fat Smooth by Tami Nevins-Mayes 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Fat Smooth

Not a "fat smoothie," the Fat Smooth is three mini cream puffs dipped in Cafe du Monde beignet batter and fried, then covered in powdered sugar and chocolate and caramel sauce.
Christi Erpillo, one of the 10 finalists for the 13th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, puts a whipped cream on her Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake.

Christi Erpillo, one of the 10 finalists for the 13th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, puts a whipped cream on her Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake.

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake

You know her name: Concessionaire Christi Erpillo has notched an impressive 11 finalists in the Big Tex Choice Awards, including the award-winning Fernie's Deep-Fried Peaches and Cream. Her latest is a slice of  "fudgy chocolate brownie cake," a press release says, "coated in ground cocoa puffs, panko and cinnamon sugar." The cake is then fried and topped with icing made with Dr Pepper, pecans and whipped cream. 
Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger by Tom Grace and Edna Sutton 

Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger by Tom Grace and Edna Sutton 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger

That's a lot of fair foods in one dish! The top and bottom of the burger, the "buns," are made of funnel cakes. Inside, there's a beef patty, bacon and queso. Powdered sugar gets dusted on top.
Gulf Coast Fish Bowl by Clint Probst 

Gulf Coast Fish Bowl by Clint Probst 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Gulf Coast Fish Bowl

It's 21 and up only for this beverage, which a statement calls a "drinkable aquarium." Candy Nerds are used as the "gravel" for the bottom of the aquarium, and it's filled with adults-only blue punch. Swedish Fish finish off this beachy drink.
Pinot Noir Popcorn by the Parish Family 

Pinot Noir Popcorn by the Parish Family 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Pinot Noir Popcorn

Move over, butter. This kettle corn is topped with "pinot noir wine powder."
Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat by Melissa and David Harrison 

Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat by Melissa and David Harrison 

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat

Lobster has returned to the State Fair of Texas. Unlike in 2015, however, this dish isn't fried. The Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat is lobster and steak, grilled and stuffed into a baked potato with cheese and garlic butter. A single lobster claw sticking out of the top gives it a dramatic look.
Texas Fajita Fries by Nick Bert

Texas Fajita Fries by Nick Bert

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

Texas Fajita Fries

Most everything in this dish is fried: the beef fajita strips as well as the onions and jalapenos they sit on. Pico de gallo and sour-cream-guacamole sauce come on the side.
The Tamale Donut by Justin Martinez

The Tamale Donut by Justin Martinez

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

The Tamale Doughnut

There had to be a doughnut! Justin Martinez, the guy who made the State Fair of Texas' award-winning fried bubblegum and fried Thanksgiving dinner, created the Tamale Doughnut, a pork-filled tamale formed into a circle. It's then fried and topped with creamy jalapeno salsa.

Do you think these foods are more or less wacky than past years' Big Tex Choice Awards? Tell us on Twitter at @guidelive.

You know these sisters: They're Johnna McKee (left) and Christi Erpillo, of the family who has created Fernie's Deep-Fried Peaches and Cream and Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly at the State Fair of Texas. This year, they're a Big Tex Choice Awards finalist for Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake. Fernie is their 91-year-old mother.

You know these sisters: They're Johnna McKee (left) and Christi Erpillo, of the family who has created Fernie's Deep-Fried Peaches and Cream and Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly at the State Fair of Texas. This year, they're a Big Tex Choice Awards finalist for Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake. Fernie is their 91-year-old mother.

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer

This year's Big Tex Choice Awards include a few usual suspects like Erpillo, whose parents are credited with bringing funnel cake to the State Fair of Texas. She started working at the State Fair at 17 years old, some 50 years ago. Her finalist dish, Fernie's Fried Texas Sheet Cake, is named after her 91-year-old mother, who still visits the fair nearly every day. 

"As far as I'm concerned, the State Fair of Texas has the most elevated fair food, period," Erpillo says.

The Big Tex Choice Awards finalists include some newcomers, like David and Melissa Harrison, who entered the contest for the first time this year. Unlike some concessionaires who fuss with recipes for nearly all 11 months of State Fair off-season, the Harrisons came up with the Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat, never actually made the dish, and submitted the idea.

"I'd never put that potato together until the night before I had to serve it," says David, speaking of when he had to submit his food for tasting. But he'd been dreaming of a lobster- and beef-stuffed baked potato ever since his blackened shrimp baked potato was a hit at the fair in 2016. 

4 essential State Fair of Texas foods

How does it taste? "Oh my goodness," David says. "Oh, it's good."

State Fair concessionaires have been selling wacky ingredients for more than a half-century. (See this story about the "4 essential State Fair of Texas" foods and you'll see that the State Fair food biz has a deliciously rich history.) 

Much newer is the famous Big Tex Choice Awards, the annual who-fried-the-strangest-thing contest that earns concessionaires serious bragging rights. In just over a decade, Texans have been introduced to fried Coke and fried beer, fried cookie dough and fried bubblegum. Perhaps the quintessential gut-busting Big Tex Choice Awards winner was fried butter, which took home the 2009 prize for Most Creative.

State Fair of Texas sweetens fried-food contest with more winners

How do you fry butter? Or beer? That's part of the puzzle, and part of the fun, for concessionaires.

For the 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards, judges are going to pick three winners, not two on Aug. 27. There's Best Taste - Sweet, Best Taste - Savory and Most Creative. Concessionaires who made savory or sweet dishes formerly had to compete against one another for one Best Taste title. Judges won't have to compare deep-fried lobster to carrot cake, as they had to do in 2015.

Last year, 82-year-old Ruth Hauntz won Best Taste for her Fried Jell-O, a simple dish of cherry Jell-O battered and dipped in the fryer, then topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream and a cherry. Serial concessionaire Isaac Rousso won Most Creative for his Cookie Fries.

The State Fair of Texas will be Sept. 29-Oct. 22, 2017 in Dallas. See how to get cheap State Fair tickets here.

It's almost time for the State Fair of Texas. The fair will be Sept. 29 to Oct. 22. 

It's almost time for the State Fair of Texas. The fair will be Sept. 29 to Oct. 22. 

Ting Shen/Staff Photographer
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