Carnival Food Favorites Shine At The 2017 Houston Rodeo Gold Buckle Awards

Stubby's Cinnamon Rolls win

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in full swing, and the nice weather means crowds are descending on the carnival grounds. Along with the carnival come many longtime food favorites, along with several new options for 2017.  The Gold Buckle Foodie competition, hosted by the rodeo’s Commercial Exhibits Committee, is the annual opportunity for the purveyors to show off their fun, tasty or downright crazy carnival food and compete for the coveted plaques and fancy award buckles in each category.

Around 40 media representatives from local television, radio, newspapers and web outlets served as judges. After more than two hours of sampling and rating food submissions, the votes were tallied and this year’s winners selected. A few of the 50-plus tasty submissions are featured here, with a complete list of the winners below.

Of course, visitors to the carnival can hunt down all these tasty bites for themselves. The truly dedicated can take the Gold Buckle Foodie Challenge by downloading the RODEOHOUSTON mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) and scanning the QR code at each winning vendor’s location. After trying all eight, visit the Social Station, located at the entrance of Hall D, to claim a prize.

The Finer Diner Fried Chicken & Waffle
The Fried Chicken & Waffle from The Finer Dinner landed third in the Best Breakfast category. Photo by Scott Sandlin

Here are the 2017 Gold Buckle Foodie award winners in each category:

1st: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, “The Works Cinnamon Roll”
2nd: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, “Big Stone Breakfast Sandwich”
3rd: The Finer Diner, “Chicken & Waffles”

Classic Fair Food:
1st: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, “Cinnamon Roll with Icing”
2nd: Ranch House, “Smoked Turkey Leg”
3rd: Holmes Smokehouse, “Carved Brisket Sandwich”

Best Value:
1st: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, “Loaded Baked Potato”
2nd: Saltgrass Steakhouse, “BBQ Rib Platter”
3rd: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, “Original Cinnamon Roll”

Food on a Stick:
1st: Berryhill Baja Grill, “Shrimp Diablo”
2nd: Holmes Smokehouse, “Bacon-Wrapped Sausage on a Stick”
3rd: Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, “Corny Dog”

Fried Food:
1st: Berryhill Baja Grill, “Crispy Shrimp Taco”
2nd: Sill’s Funnel Cakes, “Fried Pecan Pie”
3rd: Yoakum Packing Co., “Deep Fried Brisket Balls”

Corn Shack Flamin' Hot Cheetos Roasted Corn
The Corn Shack landed third place in the “Most Creative” category for their Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-dusted roasted corn. Photo by Scott Sandlin

Most Creative:
1st: Cowboy Kettle Corn, “Nitro Pop”
2nd: Custom Confections, “Donutwich Deluxe”
3rd: Corn Shack, “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Roasted Corn”

1st: Fried What!, “Buckeyes”
2nd: Mad Hatter Funnel Cake #1, “Chocolate Covered Strawberries”
3rd: Sill’s Funnel Cakes, “Nana’s Banana Split”

New Flavor:
1st: Mad Hatter Funnel Cake #2, “Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal Cream Pie”
2nd: Mad Hatter Funnel Cake #1, “Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Pie”
3rd: Paradise Burgers, “Fried Nachos”

Rodeo Houston runs through March 26 at NRG Park, and is one of the most attended events in Houston, drawing over 2.46 million people last year over 20 days.

About The Author: Smoked meat enthusiast and regular barbecue competition judge Scott Sandlin authors the Texas Pit Quest blog, maintains the Guide to Houston-Area BBQ map, and is the barbecue columnist for Houston Food Finder.

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  • March 25, 2017 at 7:13 amDylan

    I went to SILLS and got a funnel cake and they double charged my credit card for the day before I even went to the rodeo, and also the day after. They are also attempting more charges…I saw blink 182 in houston and bought my wife a cake with strawberry it was delicious she said, but its not quite worth the constant debit card charges.