Gardiner Cupcake Festival this Saturday

Ainsley Kouhout at the Gardiner Cupcake Festival. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Though we presumably all resolve to “eat healthier” whenever a New Year rolls around, there are times when one simply must indulge a craving for comfort foods or a special sweet treat. One trendy way these days to satisfy such a yen is with cupcakes – not just the standard cupcakes of our youth, but gourmet cupcakes that push the envelope of culinary creativity with counterintuitive flavor combinations or inspired decoration.

Businesses catering to this new market have been popping up all over the mid-Hudson in recent years, but this Saturday the Town of Gardiner offers its annual opportunity to try them all at once – or as many as your sweet tooth can handle. Now in its seventh year, the Gardiner Cupcake Festival brings together many cupcake bakeries – along with vendors of more substantial fare like pizza, barbecue and burgers made of locally raised grass-fed beef – at Wright’s Farm, located on Route 208 just south of its intersection with Route 44/44. Admission is free, but there is a nominal charge for onsite parking.

This is a terrific event for kids, since the 453-acre orchard provides room for not one but five bouncy houses, zipline, pony and wagon rides; there’s even an airstrip onsite where you can queue up for a short helicopter ride. There’s a stage with live music, and the event kicks off with a 5K run called the Cupcake Classic where you can work off your calorie guilt right up front.

Brand-new this year is a Human Foosball tournament organized by Gardiner Town Board member John Hinson as a fundraiser for the Gardiner and Shawangunk Fire Departments. It’s a bit like soccer, only the teams stand inside a rectangular plywood enclosure, where they must keep their hands on lengths of PVC pipe that slide laterally over poles as they maneuver to kick the ball toward the goal at the opposite end.

But mostly it’s about the cupcakes. They come in every imaginable flavor from red velvet cake to margarita to bacon, and the fantastically decorated ones could keep you busy all day snapping photos even if you don’t eat a bite. Organizers recommend bringing a cooler so that you can take some home, if your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Cupcake prices run about $2 apiece.

The Cupcake Festival goes on rain or shine from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. To enter your baked creations in the amateur cupcake contest, sign up for the race, field a foosball team or find out more, call (845) 255-5300, visit www.gardinercupcakefestival.com or check it out on Facebook.

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