Will it be Brisket Brittle, Frozen Ranch Water, the Lobster Corn Dog, or the ominously monikered Deep Fried Halloween that ends up being one of the title-winning entries in the 17th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards?
The State Fair of Texas announced this month that 32 entries made it to the next round of judging for the annual contest, which serves to showcase the inventive new offerings of fair concessionaires.
The contest kicked off in early July with an impressive 43 entries represented by 26 concessionaires. It is required that all competitors have at least one year of experience as concessionaires at the State Fair of Texas to enter the competition. With food as a cornerstone of the annual State Fair, these contenders are more than just successful small business owners; they have proven themselves to be authentic representations of the dedication and passion brought to the table each year.
The unique selection process used in the annual competition is headed up by a panel of internal judges and requires “blind judging” from start to finish, meaning the panel does not know which concessionaire is behind each recipe. This allows for the scoring to be entirely based on the food entry itself and leaves no room for bias toward concessionaires since their identities are not revealed to the panel. To vie for a spot in this semi-final round, contestants put their creativity to the test by coming up with an enticing name and description for their original concoctions, in addition to submitting a photo of their creation. Faced with a solid list of tempting treats, the judges based their choices solely on which food name, photo, and description look and sounds the most appealing to their personal palette, just like a fairgoer might do while at the Fair.
Over the next several weeks, the second round of preliminary judging will begin, and these edible creations will have to prove to the panel of judges that they are just as delicious as they look and sound. The tasting round will judge each semi-finalist on, at minimum, four main ingredients of a finalist-worthy concoction: uniqueness, presentation, creativity, and, of course, taste. The judges will also have to defend their rankings against the seemingly simple yet crucial question – how likely is a fairgoer to buy the item? By mid-August, anticipation will be at an ultimate high when the Fair-food finalists are announced. The top 10 entries will compete in the final round at this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony.
“Even if your cuisine of choice doesn’t make it to the main event, concessionaires can still choose to introduce their food at their stand as a “new food” during this year’s State Fair,” the fair explained.