State Fair of Texas Funnel Cake Queen (Texas Country Reporter)
Meet the "royal" family responsible for bringing the funnel cake to the Texas State Fair.
Wanda “Fern” Winter & Christi Erpillo
Fernie’s Funnel Cakes at The State Fair of Texas
Fair Park, Dallas, TX
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[Music] most Texans know that iconic booming voice means one thing the State Fair of Texas is finally here happy shrieks fill the air as rides go up and down and round and round and fryers cook up any and everything you can think of that a fit on a stick for lots of people stopping by is an annual tradition but follow the aroma of sweet dough in powdered sugar to the Embarcadero building and you'll meet a family with a connection to the fair that takes the cake my earliest memories of working at the fair well it was when I was 17 years old and I didn't like it at all I absolutely hated it but now I absolutely love it I could not be in Dallas in October and not be at the State Fair Texas [Music] [Applause] it's been 50 years since Christi RPO first started working at the fair then her sister Jonna joined in and together they've kept their family legacy alive and well by serving up a sweet concoction with more twists and turns than the zipper ride found on the famous State Fair Midway [Music] [Applause] because she made I made it we know our strengths and she can make a really good really crazy it's a family organization and my youngest sister she is the CFO the chief financial officer for our business and I am the CFO the chief frying officer for our business so what makes these two CFOs funnel cakes stand out from all the rest they will get what do well for one thing these were the very first funnel cakes ever at the State Fair of Texas brought here in the 80s by Christie and John his parents John and ferny today bernie is best known by her royal title the funnel cake queen mother comes to the fair pretty much every day she waves to everybody on the way down the fairgrounds are like there's Bernie there's Bernie and then I bring her inside and she sits there and has her picture made with everybody they get autographs it's it's she's like a little celebrity and it's so cute to see her at 93 years old still enjoying herself so much [Music] now some people have described you as State Fair royalty I don't know whether I am NOT I've been here a long time you've got your throne that you said when your this is in fact what you do during the fair isn't it you said over here they say and they act surprised I said yeah I'll be here next year good lord willing today ferny's funnel cake is as iconic as well as a Fletcher's corny dog even Oprah has dumped by for furnace fried fair favorite but this fair family hasn't stopped there they spend lots of time experimenting with new recipes and just about every year they find themselves competing in the Big Tex Choice Awards you think they'd run out of ideas but if its food Christie and Jonna say it can be fried we have been in the Big Tex Choice Awards 16 times and 15 years there is nobody else that has been in the contest as many times as we have in 2009 we won the Big Tex Choice Awards for deep-fried peaches and cream in 2015 we won four holy moly carrot cake prob'ly last year we won four hoppin John cake with jackpot sauce we did not win in 2008 for our fried grilled cheese sandwich but it's still one of our biggest sellers to this day so yeah it's good this year ferny's fried Bert in burrito was nominated and while it didn't win this fried tortilla filled with a jalapeno popper spread and barbeque burnt ends is a huge hit but Bernie and her daughters say they don't come back year after year because of all the success they come back because the fair is part of their family and their family is part of the fair how does it make you feel to see your daughters take over and keep doing this well it makes me feel happy that they want to do keeping it in the family we are in our third generation my youngest sister went into labor making funnel cakes out here and that funnel cake baby is recalling is our Skyway porch manager and our stand manager how do you feel carrying on your parents legacy but at the same time you're creating all these new things it it feels wonderful the day of the Big Tex Choice Awards John and I were running extension cords and doing all this I just liked honor as we're both on the floor I said dad he'd be so proud of his girls I know mother is what's it like for you to see your mom sitting there carrying court during the fair it's wonderful it's gonna make me sad to have your mom at 93 is a blessing but to see your mom so active and enjoying life so much at 93 it's it is one of the greatest blessings ever [Music] there's something special about the fair maybe it's the thrill of discovery with spectacle and wonder around every corner but the couple that brought the funnel cake and lots of other fabulous fried food to the State Fair of Texas never imagined that this place this annual extravaganza would come to mean so much more what does your mom think about you know just being passed down mother is so incredibly proud of all of us it means a lot to her to see what her and daddy created and how we're still keeping it going after 50 years much longer you think you'll come down here to the fair and sit here in your chair and take it all in as long as I can get in the car and come down here you bring somebody brave me I'll be here you look for it it is the State Fair of Texas wouldn't be the State Fair of Texas without ferny's that's what we'd like to thank we've had a good time out here all our years wouldn't I'd hear that part [Music] you