When it comes to fried food at state fairs, I tip my hat to the State Fair of Texas.

When it comes to fried food at state fairs, I tip my hat to the State Fair of Texas.

That fair, which runs in Dallas from Sept. 24 to Oct. 17 this year, encourages nutty thinking by sponsoring the Big Tex Choice Awards. The contest asks vendors to submit recipes for wacky new foods. One is judged “Most Creative” and one wins for “Best Taste.” This year’s entries were whittled down to eight:

- Fernie’s fried club salad. A 12-inch spinach wrap filled with ham, chicken, lettuce, carrot strips, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar and bacon is deep-fried and topped with sourdough croutons on a stick. It’s served on a bed of shredded lettuce with choice of salad dressing.

- Deep-fried frozen margarita. Funnel cake batter is infused with margarita ingredients, then fried, dusted with a lemon/lime mixture, spritzed with south-of-the-border flavor and served in a salt-rimmed glass.

- Fried chocolate. A white-chocolate candy bar and a cherry are stuffed into a brownie, dipped in chocolate cake batter, deep-fried and topped with powdered sugar, cherry sauce and chocolate whipped cream.

- Deep-fried s’mores Pop-Tart. A s’more-flavored Pop-Tart is lightly battered, deep fried, drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream.

- Fried beer. A beer-filled, ravioli-shaped pocket is deep-fried. The beer that escapes with the first bite serves as a dipping sauce.

- Texas fried Frito pie. Chili and cheddar are wrapped in corn chips, lightly battered and fried.

- Fried lemonade. Lemon-flavored pastry is baked, deep-fried and topped with a lemon glaze.

- Texas fried caviar. This isn’t really caviar. It’s black-eyed peas that are fried and laced with spices, including Old Bay, a seasoning often used with seafood.

The Illinois State Fair has its share of fried foods. There are pickles, candy bars, cheesecake ... excuse me while I yawn. These foods are buzzed about for 10 days in August, but they’re amateur compared with the inventiveness of Texans.

By the way, the winners of the Big Tex Choice Awards were just announced. The fried Frito pie won “Best Taste,” and the fried beer was deemed “Most Creative.”

Kathryn Rem can be reached at kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.