From “Deep Fried I-35” To Something Simply Called “The Armadillo”, These Are These Are The New Food Options You Can Get At This Year’s State Fair.

We’re in the last leg of summer, which means Big Tex is beginning to rear his big, ugly head — although the fate of this year’s State Fair of Texas is looking at least a little shaky. 

COVID cases are back on the rise and events are starting to get canceled and/or postponed again. Will this mean we’ll have another desperate drive-through version of the annual, problematic affair? Probably not! More likely, Dallasites risk it all — agonizing traffic, overpriced everything and screaming children, the whole shebang– for the full jingoistic experience once again. 

Yeah! Take that, delta variant!

And what will these people be eating once they enter Fair Park? Well, last month, we walked you through the semi-finalist foods of this year’s Big Tex Awardsand, just last week, the fair has announced the finalists for the awards. Unlike that previous batch of contenders, what sets this batch of 10 select entrants (five savory ones and five sweet) apart is that they’re all confirmed now to be concessions at the September 24-October 17 event. 

Three winners from this group — the best-tasting savory option, the best-tasting sweet option and the most creative option overall, per usual — will be revealed on Facebook Live as part of a closed-to-the-public judging on August 29.

But, again, simply making it to this finalist round is the biggest coup of all, as these will options will be added to the fares available for attendees to scarf down at this year’s fair. Here those artery-clogging newcomers are, presented in all their over-the-top State Fair of Texas-provided photo and description glory.

2021 Savory Finalists

Crispy Crazy Corn by Ruth Hauntz: “Sweet whole kernel corn is individually battered, fried, and dashed with our secret seasoning. These crispy little gold nuggets alone make a great snack, but the heat turns up a notch when we add slowed-smoked pulled pork, topped with a tangy pineapple slaw, kissed with a drizzle of freshly made jalapeño crema and a generous sprinkle of fresh cilantro. It’s a crunchy, sweet, savory, tangy flavor party that’s crazy good.”

Deep Fried I-35 by Clint and Gretchen Probst: “The Deep Fried I-35 combines various sweet and savory ingredients into decadent tribute to the Texas road trip! First, we fry up our kolache dough, leaving a divot in the center for our filling. We top our fried kolache with smoked beef brisket. Our peach juice combines with the Dr Pepper® to make a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze which we drizzle over our brisket kolache. We garnish this roadworthy concoction with peach slices and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Voila, y’all!”

Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls by Gourmet Royale: “Using a family recipe that has been handed down four generations, the base is a dark, rich, and savory roux that represents the true essence of New Orleans. The balls are then loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, stewed chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. The balls are then rolled in our saltine cracker and breadcrumb batter, then fried, creating an explosion of flavor. Served with a side of dark gumbo roux sauce, chicken fried okra spears, saltine crackers, and a small bottle of hot sauce.”

Lucky Duck Dumplin’ by Bert Concessions: “A delectable pastry filled with a delicious combination of rich, fluffy cream cheese, blended with succulent duck bacon and delicately roasted sweet corn, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices. These delicately filled 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.”

Pork Shots by Glen Kusak and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller: “This new Fair favorite starts with Texas best smoked sausage at the base of this shot. We wrap the sausage with delicious hickory smoked bacon which forms a tiny bowl, and this savory tastebud-teaser is filled with everyone’s favorite – creamy mac and cheese. We sprinkle the outside with a secret sweet, spicy BBQ rub to finalize this perfect Fair-food-to-share item. Talk about a party in your mouth!”

2021 Sweet Finalists

The Armadillo by James Barrera: “Y’all will want to go home with the Armadillo Cookie Butter Ice Cream Sandwich! It is a made-from-scratch cookie butter semifreddo – an Italian take on ice cream that means semi-frozen. The treat is drizzled with cookie butter and sandwiched between two deep fried Armadillo-shaped cookies that are made with a branding iron. Finally, it is dusted with buttery sugar. Absolutely a velvety cream delight!”

Brisket Brittle by Ruth Hauntz: “This confectionary delight has the rich, buttery, crunchy, sweet deliciousness of an old-fashion peanut brittle. We have, however, replaced the peanuts with the smokey goodness of Texas brisket. This addictively sweet yet savory treat finishes with a satisfying hint of heat.”

Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake by Michelle Edwards: “Your fall favorite with Texas flair! A Texas-shaped, decadent pumpkin cake with a finger-licking, gooey vanilla glaze, silky caramel, topped with fluffy whipped cream, and lightly sprinkled with secret spice.”

Deep-Fried Halloween by Isaac Rousso: “This trick-or-treat experience starts with a delicious large chewy pretzel that is dropped in the fryer. As it becomes golden brown, we quickly bathe it in candy corn syrup, followed by some rainbow sprinkles and powdered sugar. Now the fun begins – piping in orange and white buttercream icing, then stacking some of our most favorite Halloween candies on top. Crowned with Marshmallow whip cream and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, the final touches of Hershey’s chocolate syrup caramel sauce and candy corn are drizzled on.”

Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake by Winter Family Concessions: “We start with lightly glazed, old fashioned cake donuts broken into chunks. Next, we add a scoop of buttery baking morsels flavored with English toffee and almonds and the mixture is blended with a velvety custard. The cakes are dipped in an egg product and covered in panko and vanilla cookie crumbs, then quickly fried to a golden brown! It is served on a plate with a light dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkled with more toffee bits and a dollop of frothy mocha coffee whipped cream.  It is topped off with a miniature chocolate covered toffee bar to fancy it up!”

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