This is what award winning funnel cakes look like

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We asked, you answered.

The Heartland says funnel cakes are their favorite fair food.

While Heartland Weekend’s Nichole Cartmell let her stomach lead her through the 163rd SEMO District Fair, she stumbled upon not just a sweet treat, but an AWARD-WINNING one.

Let us introduce you to the turtle funnel cake.

turtle funnel cake

Paulette Keene of Paulette’s Food Service from Pinckneyville, Il. was crowned a winner of Golden Abe’s Fantastic Fair Food Competition at the Illinois State Fair this year.

She won the sweet category with this ooey-gooey goodenss.

“Should be light and airy, yet crispy on the outside,” Keene explains.

Powdered sugar, fudge, caramel, and chopped pecans combine for a party in your mouth.

Keene is always coming up with new ideas for toppings.

Last year, she won the dessert category with her strawberry shortcake funnel cake.

But this year’s might take the cake. Keene loves turtle candy.

“At Christmas we always made homemade turtles so I thought why not make a turtle funnel cake,” Keene said with a smile.

The fair holds a special place in Keene’s heart.

As a child, her family owned a small carnival where she’d help serve up cotton candy and sno cones.

When she got married, Keene and her husband decided to go into the business. She’s been serving up sweet funnel cakes, hand-dipped corn dogs and fresh squeezed lemonade now, for more than 30 years.

Her favorite part:

“Seeing the smile on their face when you hand them their favorite fair food, whether it’s a corndog, a funnel cake, or a lemonade or what they’ve come here to get,” Keene said.

Turtle funnel cakes are just some of the few flavor combinations you can enjoy.

Keene is also serving up Reese’s, birthday cake, maple bacon, and of course the traditional powdered sugar.

Get yours at the 163rd SEMO District Fair.

Use this guide to plan your adventure:

SEMO District Fair: let Heartland Weekend help you plan your trip


Butt Fries: A fair food you want to get your caboose in line for