The woman credited with bringing the first funnel cake to the State Fair of Texas died this weekend.

Wanda “Fernie” Locke Winter died Sunday. She was 95.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved mother and treasured mimi, Wanda ‘Fernie’ Winter,” her daughter Christi Erpillo said. “She was a light in this world, and we will continue to carry her flame within us. She will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.”

Winter graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1944.

She and her husband, John, started working at the fair in 1967 and introduced funnel cakes in the 1980s, although no one remembers the exact year. Winter worked more than 50 years as a state fair concessionaire, selling concoctions like Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly and Fernie’s Deep Fried Peaches and Cream. Both won Big Tex Choice Awards.

She is survived by four daughters and their families: Vicki and Ron Ingram; Joanne Czerwinski; Bert and Christi Erpillo; and Dan and Johnna McKee; six grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending. The family plans to organize a larger celebration of life at the fairgrounds this fall. It will be open to the public.


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