From cotton candy taco to Texas Twang-kie: State Fair of Texas announces food finalists

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The State Fair of Texas has announced its top 10 finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards.

The annual competition challenges concession vendors to come up with the best unique treat for the fair. It should come as no surprise that many of the entries are fried.

The finalists compete to win one of three titles – Best Taste Sweet, Best Taste Savory and Most Creative.

2018 Savory Finalists

Deep Fried Shepherd’s Pie is a cheesy, fried potato ball filled with shepherd’s pie filling, served with a side of gravy.

Deep Fried Skillet Potato Melt in a Boat is a potato skin topped with a deep-fried ball of buttery skillet potatoes, cheeses, griddle breakfast sausage and more. It’s all topped with a sour cream chipotle sauce.

Fernie’s Hoppin’ John Cake with Jackpot Sauce puts a spin on the classic, southern New Year's Eve "good luck" dish. It’s fried until crunchy and topped with a black-eyed pea relish and a side of Jackpot Sauce.

Texas Twang-kie is a savory take on the classic American treat. It has a cornbread cake exterior with a chicken white bean chili filling.

Texas Fried Hill Country combines all the best ingredients from Central Texas. Fried mozzarella and basil are sandwiched between two slices of fried green tomato and finished with a balsamic and honey drizzle.

2018 Sweet Finalists

The Cotton Candy Taco has a graham cracker waffle cone shell that is filled with a marshmallow glaze, chocolate, cane sugar cotton candy and other toppings.

Fernie’s Orange You Glad We Fried It is a turnover-style fried pastry filled with a mixture of moist chiffon orange cake, whipped cream and citrusy orange preserves. It’s dusted with powdered sugar and served with two dipping sauces.

State Fair Fun-L Cake Ice Cream pairs the flavor of funnel cake with ice cream. It’s topped with funnel cake pieces, powdered sugar, whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

Arroz Con Leche (Sweet Crispy Rice) is a cinnamon-spiced rice ball that is deep fried with a crispy puffed rice cereal batter. It’s served with a side of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Sweet Bakin’ Bacon is a cream-filled sponge cake that is wrapped in bacon and then dipped in a funnel cake batter. It’s deep fried and topped with powdered sugar.

The Big Tex Choice Awards winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Aug. 26. Members of the public can pay to attend and sample the finalists before the fair opens.

The fair runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 21. For more information, visit