Big Tex loosens belt for annual contest

By Karissa Condoianis

The final countdown to three of the most coveted food titles in all of Texas begins. The State Fair of Texas is proud to present the 17th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards.

The Lucky Duck Dumplin’ (pictured), from Bert Concessions, is a pastry filled with rich, fluffy cream cheese, blended with duck bacon and roasted sweet corn, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices. These dumplings are dropped into the deep fryer until golden-brown and fried to crispy perfection! Three Lucky Duck Dumplin’s are served alongside a sweet and gently spicy Thai chili glaze for dipping, finished with a sprinkling of fresh basil and nestled in a small hand-held tray. Photos courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

On Sunday, August 29, three winners will be crowned in the categories of: “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative.” The competition began in early July with an impressive 43 entries represented by 26 concessionaires. Of those entries, 32 were selected as semi-finalists. Each entry was evaluated on four Fair-food elements: uniqueness, creativity, presentation and taste. After some tasty tests and delicious dishes, votes were cast and the results are finally in! Now the top 10 finalists must present themselves to a prestigious panel of celebrity judges in hopes of securing one of the top spots. If your favorite entry did not make the final cut, fret not; concessionaires may still choose to introduce their creation at their stand as a new food during this year’s Fair.

Without delay, the State Fair of Texas is happy to announce the 10 finalists that will be competing for the titles of “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative” in the 2021 Big Tex Choice Awards competition.

The Deep Fried – I35 is a sweet and savory decadent tribute to the Texas road trip.


Crispy Crazy Corn by Ruth Hauntz; Deep Fried I-35 by Clint and Gretchen Probst; Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls by Gourmet Royale; Lucky Duck Dumplin’ from Bert Concessions; and Pork Shots from Glen and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller.


The Armadillo by James Barrera; Brisket Brittle from Ruth Hauntz, Deep-Fried Halloween by Isaac Rousso; Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake from Winter Family Concessions; and Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake by Michelle Edwards

This year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event will be closed to the public. Like many businesses across the world, our vendors endured financial hardships through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this small change will help them focus all their efforts on having a successful 2021 State Fair. Stay up to date with the 2021 Big Tex Choice Awards event by following the action live on the social media channels — @StateFairofTX. 

The 2021 State Fair of Texas will open on Friday, Sept. 24, and will run through Sunday, Oct. 17. Head to to purchase season passes and premium tickets today.