The State Fair of Texas and its famous fried-food contest, the Big Tex Choice Awards, are making a Texas-sized change.
Whereas two concession items used to win an award each year, either for Best Taste or Most Creative, the fair is sweetening the deal by offering three winners this time: two for Best Taste (separated by Best Taste - Sweet and Best Taste - Savory) and one for Most Creative.
As an example, it means last year's Deep-fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick wouldn't have to compete with last year's Fried Jell-O. (And yes, those are two real examples. The State Fair of Texas can be a fried-tening place. Also delicious.)
Another change to the annual Big Tex Choice Awards is that the number of finalists has increased to 10, up from eight. Finalists will be announced at a ticketed event at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27 in Fair Park. Serious fair eaters have loved the event in the past because they get to try all the finalists' foods in one place, before the fair even opens.
The State Fair is now accepting entries into the Big Tex Choice Awards. Entrants have to have been concessionaires at the State Fair for at least a year.
Lest you think this is a lighthearted event for all involved, some families devote serious time and money all year testing recipes for the annual contest. Once they're submitted to the fair, the dishes go through several rounds of judging before the finalist round.
"It's a full-time job," said concessionaire Isaac Rousso in 2015 about entering the contest. He has won several times and now operates a restaurant called State Fair Treats inside a Wal-Mart in Plano. There's a gaggle of concessionaires just like Rousso who dedicate an entire year to the fair, which runs just 24 days.
Some of the most inventive winners of the Big Tex Choice Awards in years past have been fried butter, fried beer and fried bubblegum. The weirder the better!