This year, the most surprising finalist in the State Fair of Texas’ Big Tex Choice Awards is likely a fried ball of chicken fettuccine Alfredo. Or is it the burrito stuffed with burnt ends, a barbecue delicacy?
The annual food competition is proof that the buzziest celebrities at the State Fair of Texas every year are not the musicians, athletes or TV personalities. They’re 10 plates of food.
The State Fair of Texas has cultivated a competitive event that entices fairgoers from all around the world to come to the Lone Star State and try a spate of strange dishes. More than 2 million tickets were counted at least year’s fair.
“Texans are some of the most innovative people when it comes to food,” says Karissa Condoianis, spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas.
“Many live for trying the new food every year.”
Here’s a list of the 10 Big Tex Choice Award finalists at the State Fair of Texas in 2019:
Calypso Island Shrimp Bowl: One of the healthier options on this year’s list, this bowl is a mix of carrots, kale, red bell peppers and more, served on yellow tropical rice with grilled shrimp. Creator Steve Alade operates a Caribbean booth at the State Fair and just opened a restaurant called Doc’s Street Grill in Roanoke.
Fernie’s Fried Burnt End Burrito: From the family that brought funnel cake to the State Fair of Texas, this new entry dips into the barbecue craze. The burrito is filled with cream cheese, bacon, cheese, jalapenos and smoked burnt ends. The whole burrito comes lightly fried, with a side of onion rings. Concessionaire Christi Erpillo sources the burnt ends from Ferris Wheelers, a barbecue restaurant in the Dallas Design District.
Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Mexi-Cone: Barbacoa, black beans and cilantro-lime rice are packed inside an ice cream cone-shaped tortilla shell. The concessionaire is 85-year-old Ruth Hauntz, who created 2016’s best-tasting Big Tex Choice Award dish, Fried Jell-O.
Southern Fried Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Ball: Roll up Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, Alfredo sauce and fried chicken and you’ve got a Texified Italian dish. It’s described as having “rustic Italian flavors” that are “treated to our Southern hospitality,” though it isn’t this family’s first foray into fried Italian food: Greg Parish mentions that they also sell fried spaghetti and meatballs at the fair.
Texas Cream Corn Casserole Fritters: Concessionaire Clint Probst takes the classic corn casserole ingredients of corn, sour cream, cheddar cheese and cornbread mix and rolls it into a ball and fries it. The dish comes topped with bacon and jalapenos and with a side of creamed corn queso. Clint’s son, 19-year-old Evan Probst, says his dad “took a side dish and made it an entree.”