Calling all fair foodies, the State Fair of Texas is back

By Emily Ward

Fairgoers rejoice! The State of Fair of Texas returns Friday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 18. Leave a full day open for lots of fair fun because this year’s event is jam-packed with activities and yummy eats.

Since 2005, the State Fair’s Big Tex Choice Awards have established the State Fair of Texas as one of the country’s top fairs for great (fried) food creations. Each year, the state’s best concessionaires fry up tasty treats in hopes of becoming a finalist. Past winners of this exclusive club include Deep Fried Peaches & Cream and even Fried Beer.

The fair’s website has deemed this year’s awards as “more than a decade of decadence” and the two big winners don’t disappoint.

(Courtesy of bigtex.com)
(Courtesy of bigtex.com)

Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo took home the 2015 Best Tasting award. This unique twist on the traditional dessert features golden-baked bread that has been swirled with cinnamon and filled with moist carrot cake pieces, raisins and crisp julienned carrots. The rolls are covered in cream cheese and a blend of panko breadcrumbs, graham crackers, cinnamon and nutmeg before heading off to the fryer.

But wait, this indulgent creation isn’t quite finished. After being fried to a perfect golden brown, the carrot cake rolls are drizzled with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Caramel and a macchiato cream sauce are also served on the side for added dipping – because why not?

The winner of the 2015 Most Creative award was also much deserved. Isaac Rousso took down the competition with his Smoky Bacon Margarita. This frozen concoction infuses the flavor of freshly cooked bacon with a tangy lime margarita. Finished with a pinch of bacon crumbles, the hint of smoke is a perfect paring with the zesty citrus flavor of this libation. Cool off from the still summerlike heat with this thirst-quenching drink, which is served in a collectible souvenir cup for added fair flair.

(Courtesy of bigtex.com)
(Courtesy of bigtex.com)

The 2015 Big Tex Choice Awards finalists include: Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy, Cowboy Corn Crunch, Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest, Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo, Lone Star Pork Handle and Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso.

Don’t think that lip-smacking grubs end with the Big Tex Choice Awards, however. This year’s fair features many new and notable eats.

If your belly dreams of greasy fried yumminess, try the Fried Tailgate Party, featuring baby back ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings and cheese all stuffed inside biscuit dough and deep fried, or the Fried East Texas Sausage & Pepper Jack Cheese on a Stick.

Satisfy that sweet tooth with Fried Flan Cake, made with silky chocolate cake and creamy caramel flan that is then battered and fried. Or get in the mindset of the fall season with Pumpkin Spice Donut Chips, deep fried doughnut chips coated with a pumpkin spice glaze and served with a heaping scoop of ice cream decked with cinnamon-candied maple bacon.

Wash it all down with a S’more Beer – which combines the campfire classic with an ice-cold brew. This cocktail mixes a milk stout beer that has hints of caramel and vanilla with chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and a big marshmallow on top. Or transport somewhere tropical all thanks to the Coco-Rita. Pick between a frozen strawberry margarita or a piña colada margarita served in a coconut and topped with an umbrella.

For traditionalists, catch beloved fair eats with a twist, such as the Deep Fried Bacon Cheeseburger Basket, Fried Kettle Corn and limited edition fried Oreos in red velvet, cookie dough and cotton candy.

All fair food fanatics should be sure to visit on Thursdays to take advantage of Thrifty Thursdays, a tasty new program in which participating vendors offer special pricing on signature menu items.

General admission fair tickets are $18 and food and ride coupons are $0.50 each. But if the plan is to try one of everything, go big with the 2015 Season Pass for $39.95.