It was a pleasure to be one of the media cupcake judged for the 3rd year in a row at the 6th Gardiner Cupcake Festival at Wright’s Farm last Saturday, May 17th. This year I got there early around 11:30 am, and beat the cupcake traffic and breezed through the parking area. It’s always fun to see the cupcake vendors before things get really busy for them. I walked around taking photos of the beautiful cupcakes, and made my way to the Amateur Cupcake Baking Tent. Tammy Wright, the festival’s organizer told me that one of the judges had to cancel so they were looking for a replacement. I quickly brainstormed and luckily my writer friend Melissa Esposito happened to be heading over to the cupcake festival with an empty stomach. Around 12:30pm contest entries were still being submitted and I was getting a bit overwhelmed by the number of boxes of cupcakes spread out on the table.
I soon met Franken Berry, program director of 97.7 FM Mix. It was his first time judging so I gave him the low-down. (Take small bites so you don’t fill up by cupcake #27). He said he was going to have lunch first, but I told him that my strategy over the years has been to skip lunch and have dinner later. He must have listened because in his article he says he went out to find a BBQ lunch at Handsome Devil after the cupcake contest.
The Best Tasting Category had 16 entries, all very note-worthy cupcakes of just about every kind you can imagine. There was a 3-way tie for the winner so we had to go back and deliberate on which of the three was the best tasting. We ended up agreeing that Beth Hanigan’s Canoli cupcake was the best for its pure simple cannoli cream taste, moistness, and originality, but it was a tough decision. I’m hoping in the future, they will offer 2nd and 3rd prizes because those other two cupcakes were excellent as well. There were 11 cupcakes entered in the Cocktail Theme Cupcakes with a bevy of different yummy cocktails baked into these cupcakes, hot toddy, sangria, stouts, and pina colada that I remember well. That was also a tough decision, but Lisa Guardarramas’ Pina Colada cupcake won. The best use of a multiple cupcakes and best decorated was won by Danielle Fortanello, who made a lovely flower arrangement out of colorful cupcakes. Sadly only one person entered the best Cake Pop category. Joseph Giordano won that one. I left before Franken Berry announced the winners on stage, but the winners received special aprons and festival t-shirts along with bragging rights.
Thousands came to enjoy this perfect Spring weather day and savor these incredible cupcakes. Many veteran cupcake festival goers brought special plastic cupcake holding boxes to transport their loot. I spent most of my time in the tent, but I did notice more picnic tables were out on the field this year, which gave people more room to relax and eat. For more photos, please visit my Hudson Valley Good Stuff Facebook Page.