I cannot contain my excitement. We are basically one week away from the grand opening of the State Fair of Texas on Friday, September 25. Just one week until Fletcher’s Corn Dogs, cotton candy, turkey legs….GAH! No, that isn’t the only reason I go to the Fair, but it is my primary motivation.

If you follow us on Instagram (@dallasfoodnerd or @vickyd04), than you’ve probably already read that Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake was the winner of the Besting Tasting at the Big Tex Choice Awards and the Smoky Bacon Margarita was crowned Most Creative. Well, let me give you a quick rundown on this year’s fried favorites.

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Yes, after seeing the list of finalists, everyone (including myself) thought the Chicken Fried Lobster was going to take home the trophy, but after tasting Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake myself, I can see why the judges chose this one. The outside was perfectly fried, light and airy with the perfect crunch. The inside was the perfect paradox – moist and full of texture from the carrots and the raisins. Topped with a candy-like carrot and vanilla drizzle, this sweet treat had former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson and Dallas Maverick Devin Harris questioning their feelings on carrots. Perhaps it was the accompanying caramel and marshmallow cream cheese dipping sauces that won them over. This dessert was not overly sweet which makes it even easier to eat an entire order. Not saying I did that, but just in case you were wondering.

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The Smoky Bacon Margarita was pretty much a shoe in for most creative in the competition. As tasty as everything sounded, this green drink had everyone wondering how successful this combination could be. Don’t worry, the Fair doesn’t allow real liquor, so wine is the alcohol of choice. And I think that’s the key to being most creative – people should be a little hesitant to try it. State Fair Fried Food veteran Isaac Rousso said he has been working on perfecting his entry since November of last year. It shows. He infused smoky bacon in the margarita mix and then topped the drink with crunchy pieces of pork. You’re left with a savory, salty, crunch bit with every sip through the straw. With the Texas heat beating upon you as you walk hundreds of steps on the hot concrete, this marg will be the perfect way to chill out.

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Maybe the Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy was riding on too much hype, but I didn’t have the heavenly culinary experience I was hoping for when I tried this dish. I’m all about the crunch, and sadly the crust on mine was a little soft. Once I got past that, the lobster meat was cooked well, full of meaty flavor, but didn’t queue the angelic voices. I thought the champagne gravy would start a chorus, but alas only a little whisper. Now….I was reading other reviews of the dish, and everyone else couldn’t stop raving about it. Everyone’s tastebuds are different, so you be the judge and let me know!

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My other favorite finalist would have to be the Cowboy Corn Crunch, a small bite that truly captures the quintessential taste of Texas with sweet corn, minced jalapeno, cream cheese and a hint of bacon. Hello Spicy! The small little bit tickles your tastebuds, but doesn’t burn them. If you a little nervous about the spice, keep the Smoky Bacon Margarita nearby and you’ll be fine.

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The other finalists are similar in concept. From the Deep Fried Alligator Nests to the Fried Beer Battered Buffalo and the Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso, each of the items encompasses the essence of the State Fair – small bites of fried, cheesy, crunchy goodness.

The only downside to the State Fair is that it can be on bit on the expensive side, especially when you’re going with the family or large group of people. Luckily, the Fair has created a few ways for you to save money. First there are the ticket packages that offer discounts on admission and coupons.

  • 4 General Admission tickets and 100 coupons – $99 (19% savings)
  • 4 General admission tickets and 320 coupons – $199 (15% savings)
  • 2 General Admission tickets and 100 coupons – $69 (20% savings)
  • 2 season passes and 120 coupons – $99 (30% savings)

Then there’s Thrifty Thursday which is perfect for the fair goers, like me, who might only go for the fried favorites. This tasty program, participating food vendors are offering special pricing on signature menu items. Featured items include State Fair classics like cotton candy and funnel cakes, plus many more. Special pricing available each Thursday of the 2015 Fair. Coupons are worth $.50 each. For a complete list of all the Thirsty Thursday discount, click here.

Oh, and for your convenience, here are a few more non-food FAQs to help you get ready for your trip to the Fair.

  • Doors open at 7 a.m.
  • Tickets can be purchased in advance at Texas Kroger Food Stores or online
  • Parking in OFFICIAL State Fair lots is $15
  • If you prefer public transportation, there is a DART station right in front of the fair entrance
  • Click HERE for more FAQs

If you’re new to Dallas or even Texas, maybe the State Fair is new to you. Maybe you don’t understand what all the hooplah is about, that’s okay. One trip to the State Fair and you’ll see the phrase “Everything is Bigger and Better in Texas” come to life.

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One last note…Make sure you go to Sam’s or Costco and buy some Mylanta or Tums in bulk. Trust me. You’ll need it.

(Disclaimer: We received a complimentary ticket to the Big Tex Choice Awards, and all thoughts are our own.)