2022 Big Tex Choice Awards Semifinalists Announced

Big Tex Choice Awards
Big Tex Choice Awards courtesy State Fair of Texas

Big Tex Choice Awards has announced 36 semifinalists for this year’s State Fair of Texas. Nineteen concessionaires are in the running for Best Taste-Savory, with seventeen vying for the Best Taste-Sweet award. All semifinalists are also eligible for the Most Creative category.

The contest kicked off in June with 51 entries from 36 concessionaires, all required to have at least one year as a State Fair of Texas concessionaire to enter the competition. The contenders are more than just successful small business owners; they are proven, authentic representatives of the dedication and passion brought to the table each year.

2022 Big Tex Choice Awards

The unique selection process used in the annual competition is headed by a panel of internal judges and requires “blind judging” from start to finish so the panelists don’t know who is behind each recipe. This leaves no room for bias toward concessionaires, since their identities are not revealed to the panel. The second round of preliminary judging, the tasting round, ranks contestants on uniqueness, presentation, creativity and taste. The top ten finalists will be announced in mid-August, and these entries compete in the final round at the Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony.

The 2022 State Fair of Texas opens Sept. 30, and runs through Oct. 23. The following is a list of the 36 semi-finalists for Big Tex Choice Awards to whet your appetite.

Best Taste–Savory

Bayou Bowl, featuring three cheese macaroni topped with shrimp and lump crab plus andouille sausage and French bread. Cajun Lobster Bisque Croquettes: Potato balls filled with lobster and brie cheese plus lobster bisque for dipping.

Chicharron Explosion Nachos: Fried pork rinds topped with smoked beef fajita meat, queso and chopped beef BBQ. Crispy Dilly Dog: Dill pickle stuffed with beef hotdog, battered with corndog mix and fried, topped with chipotle mayo.

State Fair scene
State Fair of Texas

Deep Fried B.L.T.: Crispy bacon in 12’ tortilla with shredded cheddar, deep fried and layered with lettuce, tomato slices and mayo plus garlic parmesan chips. Deep fried brisket cheese sticks: Texan-Italian fusion dish –mozzarella dressed with chopped brisket, seasoned breading, fried and dusted with grated parmesan, served with marinara dipping sauce.

Deep Fried Lasagna Roll: Pasta mixed with ricotta, parmesan, provolone, and fresh mozzarella cheeses, topped with meat sauce, fried and garnished with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basis, serve with Zucchini fries. Deep Fried Texas Country Cookout: pulled pork, goat cheese, special sauce, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, with coleslaw and potato salad on top, drizzled with jalapeno BBQ sauce.

More Best Taste Savory Entries

Dim Sum Loco Burritos: shredded pork, fried potatoes, onions, bell pepper and pepper jack cheese in egg roll rappers, deep fried and served with Shishito peppers and dlantro and green onion dip, and Texas flag-topped cookie. Fried Charcuterie Board: Mozzarella, salami, and crisp green apples tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian herbs, in a wonton wrapper fried and topped with goat cheese and hot honey.

Fried Soul Food Eggroll: Eggroll filled with marinated BBQ chicken, collard greens and mac ‘n cheese, deep fried and topped with fusion sauce. Holy Biscuit: Biscuit stacked with brisket and street corn queso, bacon and Texas honey plus pickle French fries. Shaking Beef Salad: Sauteed cubed beef, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pepper and soy sauce combined in skillet. Southern Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie Waffles Sliders: crispy fried chicken filet sandwiched between Belgian waffles stuffed with sweet potato pie, topped with maple syrup and bacon.

Texas Hot Bull Ride: Shrimp battered with special seasoning, topped with special sauce and served with a side of ranch dressing. Texas Ranch Hog Wings: Pork seasoned with spicy ranch salt, drizzled with special sauce and garnished with chives. Texas Slide: Waffle slider buns filled with chicken and steak, sautéed bell peppers, onions, provolone cheese and secret sauce, served with syrup. Texas Twosome: Texas toast grilled with American cheese, stacked high with Fritos, chili, and jalapeños. Turkey Leg Taquito: Shredded turkey leg meat mixed with cheese, bacon, and jalapenos wrapped around tortilla and deep fried, served with chips, queso, and hot sauce.

Big Tex Choice Awards Best Taste Sweet

Cha-Cha Chata, vanilla horchata milkshake with caramel and cinnamon, toipped with whipped cream and dusted with crushed candy. Crunchberry® Shortcake-Strawberries dipped in shortcake batter, fried and served with whipped cream, strawberry syrup and Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries. Deep Fried Buc-ee’s®-Deep fried Beaver nuggets dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel topping and Beaver Nugget sprinkles. Deep Fried Honey-Texas honey wrapped and deep fried, topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar and raw Texas honey.

Deep Fried Praline Cheesecake Eggroll-Praline cheesecake filling in eggroll wrapper, deep-fried and drizzled in praline sauce, topped with candied praline pecan crumbles. Deep Fried Rocky Road with Blue Bell Ice Cream®-Rocky Road Kettle Fresh Fudge coated with lightly sweetened batter, deep-fried, stacked and drizzled with chocolate syrup and sweetened condensed milk, mini marshmallows and chopped cinnamon glazed nuts, with single serve vanilla ice cream.

Big Tex
Photo courtesy State Fair of Texas

Deep Fried Southern Dessert Dumplings-sweet potato and pecan pie plus dark chocolate morsels folded into a won-ton wrap, deep-fried, and dusted with powdered sugar, served with rum-raspberry chipotle dipping sauce. Deep Fried Strawberry Shortcake Crunch Roll-Coated with strawberry puree pink waffle batter, fried and topped with cream cheese icing, strawberry crunch, and garnished with fresh strawberry.

Doh-Muff-Yeast doughnut stuffed with Bavarian cream, coated in banana nut muffin batter, fried and topped with pecan butter glaze, fresh bananas and strawberries. Fat Elvis-Peanut butter and strawberry jelly spread on hot biscuit topped with marshmallow fluff and bacon plus fried plantain bananas. Fried Texas Fruit Salad-Combine chopped cinnamon apples, cherries, and peaches with strawberry cream cheese plus candied jalapenos, deep fried and dusted with ground cocoa caramel and powdered sugar mix, topped with almond icing. La Bluebonnet-freshly squeezed citrus juices and blueberries in sugary base, shaken and poured over ice, topped with lemon-mint-berry twist.

More Sweet Entries

Peanut Butter Paradise: Deep-fried honey bun injected with caramel, topped with peanut butter and layered with Reese’s pieces, Butterfinger crumbles, topped with peanut butter cups, caramel, and powdered sugar. Raspberry Chipotle Sopapilla Cheesecake: Sweet raspberries and spicy chipotle blended with cream cheese, topped with raspberry glaze and buttery sugar-coated crust, drizzled with raspberry compote, whipped topping, and chopped pecans (candied jalapeños upon request).

State Fair crowd scene
State Fair of Texas

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Cookie Dough Balls: Chocolate chip cookie dough rolled into a ball, wrapped in bacon and smoked, served with smoked chocolate dipping sauce. The Ultimate Brookie Monster: Chocolate chip cookies, layered with Oreos and marshmallows, covered in triple-chocolate brownie batter, baked into a super brookie, battered and fried, showered in powdered sugar, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with cheesecake crumbles and strawberry sauce. Triple Lemon Bliss: Flash fried ladyfingers layered with lemon bars, lemon pound cake, and garnished with lemon candies.

I’m crossing my fingers for the Deep Fried Buc-ee’s and the Fat Elvis, but don’t despair if your favorite contestant isn’t a finalist. They are still invited to sell these new Fair foods at their booths. The theme of this year’s State Fair is Treats of Texas, and these hard-working concessionaires are making sure we’ll have plenty of those. For updated info on the State Fair of Texas, please visit bigtex.com.

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.