There’s a saying that goes:  “To be the best, you have to beat the best.” But to do that, you need to know who the best is in the first place!

Presented this year by Food Network Canada, the 2019 edition of the “Take a Bite Outta Stampede” Midway Food Awards aims to find the best foods on the Stampede Midway in a variety of categories.

Each day during Stampede, panels of judges eat their way through a variety of foods and score them using the following criteria:

  • Taste (out of 10)
  • Presentation (out of 5)
  • Recommend to a friend? (out of 5)
  • Value (out of 5)

The scores are then tabulated and averaged, and the item with the highest overall score wins the award.

What follows are the award-winning Stampede Midway foods for 2019. If you’re wondering what to eat when you come visit us, why not try a few of the suggestions below?

 

Best New Food 2019

New this year at our 2019 Best New Food event on Sneak-A-Peek night, we invited 50 local VIPs, influencers and celebrities to sample some of the new foods being offered on the Stampede Midway and to let us know what their favourite menu items were. Like our traditional panel of judges who judge the official Best New Foods in the savoury and sweet categories, they too were allowed to vote on their favourite Savoury and Sweet items. What follows are the results.

 

Best New Food – Savoury (Judge’s Choice)

After eating their way through a short list of 12 of the 90 new foods debuting on the Stampede Midway this year, after much deliberation our judging panel chose the Bacon Onion Rings on a Stick by The Colossal Onion as their winning dish, netting it the Best New Food – Savoury 2019 award. Each onion ring is wrapped in bacon, put on a stick and deep-fried until golden brown. Find them at Booths 071 and 229 on the Midway.

 

Best New Food – Savoury (Taster’s Choice)

Everyone knows that the best part of fried chicken is the skin. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to take those pieces and throw them into a deep fryer to see what would happen. Sounds simple, but sometimes simple is best and the result is a dish that is crispy and flavourful, which is why our panel of food judges decided to award the Deep Fried Chicken Skins from the Deep Fried Chicken Skins booth the Best New Food – Savoury 2019 (Taster’s Choice) award. Available with your choice of dipping sauce, get yours at Booth 200 near the Rotary Dream Home.

 

Best New Food – Sweet (Judge’s and Taster’s Choice)

Real magic may or may not exist, but you can experience the next best thing: Butter Beer Ice Cream! The creamy, shortbread and butterscotch flavoured ice cream from Summerland Soft Serve comes in either a black charcoal cone or in a cup with a wafer wand, and our both our official judging panel and our group of local influencers and celebreties loved it so much that they awarded it Best New Food – Sweet 2019. Find it at Booth 203.

 

2019 Category Awards

Our category awards were adjudicated throughout Stampede Time. Each day, various judging panels hit the Stampede Midway in search of the “Best” item in our list of 2019 categories. These panels consisted of invited guests that we hosted as well as groups of “secret shoppers” who went out to judge disguised as members of the general public. Below are the winning items from the various categories for this year.

 

Best Rookie

Every year, we see new vendors who have travelled across North America to visit the Stampede. The Best Rookie award is designed to recognize food vendors who have never made an appearance at Stampede before. Best Rookie 2019 goes to The Dumpling Hero for their Creamy Truffle Lobster Dumplings. Featuring Caribbean Lobster Dumplings, stuffed with original Philadelphia Cream Cheese, garlic, green onions, black pepper and lemon juice and served with a buttered lobster tail, truffle mayo and edible gold, our judges loved the savoury, rich flavors and textures. Find it at Booth 178.

 

Best Daredevil

Sometimes, an iron gut alone isn’t enough to survive some of the foods on the Stampede Midway. You also need nerves of steel and an open mind to confront some of the more challenging items. That said, perhaps all you need instead is just a little bit of courage to try something new. With that in mind, our panel of food judges found it within themselves to tackle the Wild Boar Bacon Elk Burger from Schnitzel Burgers & Wurst, which is an elk burger topped with four strips of in-house cured boar bacon, beefsteak tomatoes and lettuce served on fresh brioche. They loved it so much that they awarded it Best Daredevil 2019. Get yours from Booth 224.

 

Best Vegetarian

You don’t need meat in a dish to enjoy a meal at Stampede. With a variety of vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free and low-sugar options available on the Midway, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of food sensitivity or dietary restrictions. After putting the category on a brief hiatus in 2018, we’ve brought back the Best Vegetarian category for 2019. This time around, Best Vegetarian 2019 goes to Avatara Pizza and their Beyond Meat Pizza. Featuring marinara sauce, mozzarella, feta cheese, organic spring lettuces, organic bruschetta and Beyond Meat, you can find them at Booth 177.

Fun Fact: All of their offerings are gluten-free, which netted them the Best Gluten-Aware 2018 award. Certain pizzas can be made vegan upon request.

 

Best Food Truck Eats

2019 features the largest number of food trucks that we’ve ever had during Stampede time, enough to debut a new award category! Best Food Truck Eats 2019 goes to Arepa Boss for their Boss 2.0 Arepa. Featuring BBQ pork with grilled cheese stuffed in an arepa and covered with Arepa Boss garlic mayo sauce, just like the rest of their offerings, the Boss 2.0 is gluten-free. Get yours at Booth 207 across from Triple B.

Fun Fact: They’ve also won Best International 2018 and Best Between Buns 2018 for their Spicy Chicken Arepa, so make sure to try all of their offerings!

 

Best “I’m Kind of a Big Dill”

It’s never a dill moment at the Calgary Stampede!

Dill pickles were the fad this year on the Stampede Midway, with items such as Dill Pickle Ice Pops, Dill Pickle Cotton Candy and even Pickle Pizza being introduced for the first time. But after much deliberation, our panel of food judges decided to award our inaugural “I’m Kind of a Big Dill” award to the Dill Vanilla Ice Cream from So Cute Ice Cream, which features vanilla ice cream infused with cucumber essence and garnished with dill and a small pickle. Get yours at Booth 002 near the Big Four Building.

Special thanks to Noah Cappe of Food Network Canada’s Carnival Eats for joining us as our Special Guest Judge!

 

Best Kid-Friendly

Kids have to eat too, and it wouldn’t be fair to have a panel of adults choose Best Kid Friendly 2019. So we recruited a panel of experts aged 6-12 years old to help us adjudicate this round instead. What did they end up choosing? The Funnel Cake Pizza from Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes. Featuring a funnel cake topped with pizza sauce, hand-torched mozzarella, thick-cut pepperoni and garnished with oregano, the kids loved the bright colors, the taste, and how fun it was to eat. You can find it at Booth 105 right under the Saddledome +15 bridge.

 

Best Meat Lovers

Meat sweats turned into meat comas as our panel of food judges scoured the Midway in search of a dish worthy of the title Best Meat Lovers 2019. With BBQ pork sausage, Venezuelan grilled cheese, over easy eggs, prosciutto, tomatoes and avocado served on a deep fried arepa and covered with Arepa Boss garlic mayo and quasacaca sauce, The Hangover Cure from Arepa Boss has all of your protein needs covered, which is why it ended up taking the title and netted Arepa Boss their second Stampede Midway food award of 2019. Find them at Booth 207 across from Triple B.

 

Best Deep Fried

If Midway Food Judging were like the Rodeo, then Best Deep Fried would be like the Bull Riding event: Super intimidating, but it’s the one that everyone looks forward to.

After much deliberation, Best Deep Fried 2019 goes to The King from Ogopogo Artisan Mini Donuts. Take your standard mini donuts with cinnamon and sugar, add both banana and peanut butter glazes, sprinkle them with some banana chips and real bacon bits, and you have a dish that Elvis himself would probably have been proud of. Find them at Booth 027 behind the Coca-Cola Stage and across from Weadickville.

 

Best “Can You Handle the HEAT?”

Sometimes, the best way to beat the heat on a hot day is to fight fire with fire. For this category, our food judges were looking for the dish that had just the right amount of kick. They found it in the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Corn Dog from Chicky’s Chicken. A traditional corn dog smothered in jalapeño cheese sauce and topped it with crushed flamin’ hot Cheetos had just the right amount of bite without being overpowering. That’s why it won Best “Can You Handle the HEAT” 2019. Find them at Booth 234 near Triple B.

 

Best Beverage

For the third time, Family Squezeed Lemonade has won the Best Beverage title, this year for their Raspberry Rose Lemonade, which was a New Food in 2019. Including raspberry, rose water and edible flowers, this drink was refreshing without being overpowering which is why this drink won Best Beverage 2019. Get yours at Booths 63, 85 and in Weadickville.

Fun Fact:  Family Squeezed Lemonade won Best Beverage in 2014 for their Mint Mojito Lemonade, in 2016 for their Cantaloupe Lemonade, 2017 for their Freshly Blended Juices and in 2018 for their Lavender Lemonade.

 

Best Sweet Treat

Like Best Deep Fried and Best Beverage, Best Sweet Treat is another staple in our Midway Food Awards program. This time around, Cookie Dough Stand takes Best Sweet Treat 2019 with their Chocolate Chip Doughnut. This classic Long John doughnut is stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough and coated in sprinkles over chocolate frosting. Get yours at Booths 059 and 091.

 

Best Value

Another staple category, new vendor The Hungry Beast wins Best Value 2019 with their Pork Buns. Also known as Siopao, this staple of Filipino cuisine features a steamed bun stuffed with roasted pork. At $5 per bun, our midway food judges agreed that it was excellent value for the price. Try one at Booth 176.

 

While you’re at it, why not give our Take a Bite Outta Stampede New Food Passport a try? If you can eat your way through at least 10 items on the passport, you can redeem it for one of this year’s collectable buttons and be entered to win a variety of prizes, including a VIP Midway Food experience in 2020, as well as an opportunity to join one of our 2020 Midway Food Award judging panels too! Download your copy here, or pick one up from the Guest Services booth inside The Market.

Finally, if you need some guidance in finding the various foods above, make sure to grab a copy of our Midway food maps. You can download them here:

And you can also pick up paper copies from any Guest Services booth.