Skip dessert today and save your calories for the Gardiner Cupcake Festival, Sat. May 17th.

Amateur Baking Cupcake Contest competitors on displayCupcakes of all shapes, sizes & styles everywhere.

Potato Chip creations from Kupcake Kouture in Bayonne, NJ

I always have a great time at the Annual Gardiner Cupcake Festival at Wright’s Farm. The 6th Gardiner Cupcake Festival is taking place on Saturday, May 17th. Why do I love the cupcake festival so much? It is a food blogger’s dream! (This year will be my 5th cupcake festival. I missed the first one). Now my favorite part of the festival is being a judge at the Amateur Cupcake baking contest. (In 2012 I was invited to be a media judge, and in 2013 I was the only returning judge.

In 2013 I was joined by 3 media judges: Jennifer Phanomrat from Just Eat Life, Kathleen Reynolds from Edible Hudson Valley, and Mark Bolger from 97.7 FM in Poughkeepsie from the “Mark Bolger in the Morning” radio show. I was asked to arrive there at 11 am, but the judging didn’t really start until 1pm. That was fine though because I beat the cupcake traffic coming into Gardiner, and took advantage of the time by taking photos and meeting the different cupcake vendors before things got crazy. I also caught a few of the front runners finishing the first ever Cupcake Classic 5K at Wright’s Farm.

There were over 30 cupcakes to taste in all the categories that had to be judged by tasting: Best Tasting category, Most Unique Ingredient category, and Best Tasting Cocktail Themed category. For the Best Animal theme, Best Decorated, and Best Use of Multiple Cupcakes we just judged from appearance, and didn’t taste them though they sure looked delicious! Categories tend to change every year.

The judges huddled in a corner, trying one cupcake at a time. (Two young women from Wright’s Farm, Delaney and Sara, cut each cupcake into four, as we tried them one at a time, scoring each one). After we tasted about 15 of them, we ate smaller and smaller bites, but even when you taste 20 cupcakes, you can still notice an exceptional one that has everything going on–moist cake, oozy tasty icing, and maybe a surprise ingredient you didn’t expect. (To the baker who included what felt like a shot of Kalhua in one of them–thank you!)

Once the judging was over, I walked around to check out the cupcake vendors again, took a few more photos, and bought 6 cupcakes to bring home to the family. There was plenty more to do though. Families danced to the live music, kids enjoyed faice painting, pony rides, and a bouncy house, and there were the $40 helicopter rides. (I’ll do that next year!) I love cupcakes, but I am always happy to stop after tasting 30 or so. Will you go to the Gardiner Cupcake Festival? I will be judge again on Saturday. I never know who the other judges or what kind of creative cupcakes I’ll be tasting until I get there, but I’m always game for this annual cupcake feast. Please visit the Hudson Valley Good Stuff Facebook Fan Page (and Like it too while you’re at it) for more photos from the Gardiner Cupcake Festival.

I will post a recap of the 2014 Gardiner Cupcake Festival on my blog, Hudson Valley Good Stuff next week.

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