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Jul 3, 2013 12:12 AM

State Fair of Texas Fried Food & Cooking Contests

I've heard about the cornucopia of fried foods at the fair. Any of it happen to be delicious? Fried foods are a guilty pleasure and I want to make sure I sin properly at the fair, there's just too much to choose from!

Since I'm a new transplant I'll be trying the fletcher's corny dog for the first time. You can't get a good corn dog in NYC (I've tried) so I'm looking forward to that. There's a million fried food vendors who's offerings are all blending together, so the Caribbean Shack (curry potato roti), Eat Crispies (fried chicken skin), Thanasi's (Dolmas) are standing out to me.

There's also a lot of cooking contests at the fair, has anyone participated in them? I thought I might check the competitions out and see what creative dishes people are making but I'm not sure if it's open for the public to see of just for the participants & judges. The agricultural events look like a lot of fun, too.

Looking forward to late September!

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  1. Welcome to another post-NY-er! (And well, hello, Stewie.) Hope you're enjoying life here (especially the super-nice people).

    Corn dog is essential at the Fair, no one matches Fletcher's. Funnel cake is another delightful fat/carb/sugar bomb, but not Texas-specific. Choose your other fried crap carefully; we do like to fry new stuff but it's not all spectacular. I often don't bother with this year's fried winner but I enjoy the publicity/runup. Eat what you enjoy.

    Cooking contests are open to all, here's an overall link, plz note individual deadlines as approp:

    It is really a spectacle, and we used to do up the NYState Fair in Syracuse. It's a completely different animal. Make sure you see the Bird Show (free), ride on the Texas Star (ferris wheel), try to see the dog agility shows. Stop at the Texas General Store to buy TX-produced goodies (Texas Olive Ranch Olive Oil, Brianna's Vinaigrette, jerkies).

    3 Replies
    1. re: DuchessNukem

      Hi duchess!

      I'm loving it here, my quality of life has gone up exponentially since relocating.

      I'm on a mission for eating a Fletcher corny dog. My first corn dog experience was at one of those crappy, generic NYC street festival. It sucked. My second corn dog was at the Grapevine Main Street Days festival a couple months ago, the difference was monumental but as I've been told it's still not even close Fletcher's.

      Are there any stands in particular known for better funnel cakes? Or are all vendors pretty much equal for the generic fried stuff? I've never had a funnel cake before :(

      There's so much going on at the SFOT I'm still looking over the events trying to figure out how to free up enough time to see it all. Thanks for the tips on what to see, I love dogs so the dog shows sound like fun.

      1. re: alkonost

        Ah, the funnel cake -- the tasty, tasty bottom feeder of the fried treat world. Any booth will do. But bring a friend, they are huge. I'm a purist and only want powdered sugar but I seem to recall whipped cream as an option.

        You'll see peeps walking around with turkey legs and they'll look so appealing, but I've never really seen the appeal. Expensive, stringy, hard to eat properly on the move despite the built-in handle. Poultry legs in general aren't my favorite cut, so YMMV.

        If you enjoy beer, offerings have improved in last couple of years -- last year there were draft stouts, IPAs, etc., in a couple of locations. Before that, choices were Piss or Piss Light.

        (Also, do the petting zoo (free but you have to buy Goat Chow if you want to feed anyone) -- but don't feed the ostrich! That little head and spindly neck will surprise you and you'll enjoy that bruise on your palm for a week. :)

        1. re: DuchessNukem

          If you're interested in beer, the indoor food court usually has the best ticket prices and you can reliably get Texas craft in there (usually Real Ale Fireman 4 and their Full Moon Rye)

    2. Never competed because a 35 yo does not look too smooth up there with a bunch of more aged individuals who have been cooking or canning a whole lot longer than I have been alive. The only competition that would lend itself open to everyone is the SPAM competition but I really not a fan of SPAM enough to come up with something award winning. I have seen some of the judging and some of the dishes looked awesome but no one gets to try them, must be a law/technicality of some sorts that prevents that.

      Out of all the years going to the SFOT here are some pointers I have come to live by:

      1. Try not to go on a day that is an off day for the large local school dsitricts.
      2. Try to go on a day that you can get a discount on admission if at all possible. The admission these days is quite expensive and then the whole issue with parking (make sure it is a SFOT parking spot not someone's front yard)
      3. If you live on a DART rail line take that. If you happen to live in Denton county or northern Dallas county you should just drive. It took my wife and I about 2 hours each way coming from Lewisville on the train.
      4. Try to see what local chefs will be presenting in the Food and Fiber building. Sometimes their portions can be quite large and could satify some of those fried food cravings. These are all free events.
      5. Go first thing when the fairgrounds open. Walk around for about an hour in the Texas Discovery gardens if they are still free. I think last year you might have had to pay?
      6. Try to get to Fletchers very early in the morning you will have the freshest corn dog and it will be fried in fresh oil.
      7. Often overlooked are the animal judging in the stables near the rear of the fairgrounds. You can see some very beautiful animals and the folks who are proud to take care of them. You can also take a tour of the Dallas Mounted Police division. Try to take the tour with guides it is free.
      8. Take your camera and extra batteries!
      9. Take plenty of water because drinks are expensive and most of the time it is still hot here!
      10. Visit the Texas Hall of State. It has alot of Dallas and fairground history as well as some great murals.

      As for the fried foods....some are hit or miss and closer to the fair they will have a guide to which are the best. None have really stuck out to me. I would rather spend my money on a corn dog instead of taking my chance with a new fried gimmick.

      I don't think those dolmas are going to be quite what you want. They are very generic. Some of the food vendor buildings have some good options like the Caribbean Shack that is a good break from all the other fried items.

      I would honestly stay around those food demonstrations from the local chefs. You can grill them with questions about their dish, their restuarant or any others you might come up with.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        Wow! Thanks for the excellent list and tips on when to get the freshest corny dog.

        There were so many cooking contests on the list I thought it would be cool to check it out and see what the participants were cooking up. I didn't know about the local chefs event, that's great.

        I used to live near one of the NYPD mounted police stables, so I MUST see the Dallas Mounted Police now that you've mentioned it :)

        Pity about the dolmas, a good home-made one can be heavenly. I'll probably opt for roti from the Caribbean shack instead. Thanks for the heads-up.

      2. Fletcher's is genuinely good imo... I like the Jalapeno version.

        The rest of the fried offerings usually end up being mostly greasy batter with some sort of gimmicky flavoring. After a couple of them they all end up tasting the same and making you feel queasy in my experience.

        Be very careful where you park. The towing services allegedly engage in some shady things with fake signs.

        2 Replies
        1. re: amokscience

          Thanks for the smart advice about parking.

          1. re: amokscience

            My eyes started to cross reading all of the deep-fried offerings, there's just too much to try so I'll probably pick 3 or 4 and leave it at that. But I've got to try the fried chicken skin.

            Thanks for the warning about parking. Are the official SFOT clearly marked in a way to distinguish them from the shady tow companies?

          2. Hi! If you like fried chicken, I highly recommend the fried chicken skin. It's just what you would imagine....crispy seasoned fried chicken without the meat! I also urge you to try the following: fried jambalaya, fried frito pie, fried ribs, fried red velvet cupcake, abd fried loaded mashed potatoes. Oh, and an Arnold Palmer frozen drink. This is coming from a State Fair expert that has pretty much tried everything.