The eighth annual Gardiner Cupcake Festival will be held Saturday, May 14, rain or shine, from noon to 6 p.m. The stars of the show, of course, are the cupcakes. Portable and delicious, cupcakes from more than a dozen bakeries in the area will be available in a head-spinning array of flavors to choose from, including vegan and gluten-free versions.
But the “full day of sweet fun for the whole family” offers visitors more than the opportunity to gratify one’s sweet tooth. The spacious 453 acres of Wright’s Farm on Route 208 in Gardiner will host a full schedule of local bands playing live music all day and at least a half dozen food truck vendors with a variety of tasty fare to suit any palate. Adults can enjoy wine and spirits tastings and browse the selection of craft and gift items at the vendor stands, and kids will have options that include pony rides, a zip line, bouncy houses and a “kid zone” activity center along with a petting zoo and a “decorate-your-own-cupcake” stand. The cupcake baking competition for amateur bakers will return with some new categories, and the fourth annual 5K run through the orchards will start the day off.
The Gardiner Cupcake Festival drew an estimated 10,000-plus visitors last year. The popularity of the event is only growing with each passing year, and the festival took some hits on social media from visitors disappointed that vendors ran out of cupcakes before the 6 p.m. ending time. That won’t happen this year, says Mackenzie Dietz, fifth-generation member of the Boylan-Wright family that have operated Wright’s Farm year-round since 1904, when Charles B. Wright purchased what was then a dairy farm. “We’ll have more cupcakes than ever at this year’s event,” she promises.
Some of the activities that have been available at the Cupcake Festival in past years, like the human foosball game and the helicopter rides, are still “up in the air” (no pun intended) as to whether they’ll happen this time around. “Everything can change at the last minute,” Dietz says. “A lot of people wait until then to decide to do things and there is most likely going to be more to announce as the planning continues.” The best place to find last-minute updates is on the festival’s Facebook page.
But the day will definitely begin with the fourth annual 5K Cupcake Classic run. The course takes runners on gravel farm roads and grassland through apple and peach orchards against a backdrop of the Shawangunk Mountains. Participants will pass peach trees, strawberry plants, the hop yard and several ponds, one of which — Louis Lake — is named for the resident swan and his family. Walkers are welcome on the course, with or without a stroller, and friendly dogs can join in but only if on a leash; an additional waiver must be signed at registration, which begins at 9 a.m. The entry fee is $30 and all participants get a cupcake at the finish line.
At least 100 runners come out every year for the event. Last year’s top male finishers were Marc Reider with a time of 19:24 and close behind, David Hanson at 20:37. Top finishing female runners were Alexandra Swiatocha with a time of 20:19 followed by Amelia Medley at 26:46.
After the 5K, the festival begins. Participating cupcake vendors, as of press time, include a few new participants and some returning favorites. Look for Whipped Cupcakes (in their retro food truck), Simply Sasa’s, Deising’s Bakery, KokoPelli Cookie Co., Eat This! Bakery, Peace Love and Cupcakes, Mid-Hudson Cakes, For the Love of Cupcakes, Sinfully SWEET Desserts, Mimmy’s Mini Cakes & More, Cake Heights, Kupcake Kouture, Periwinkles at Rhinebeck and, of course, Wright’s Farm themselves. Flavors available will range from the classic red velvet and double chocolate varieties to the more unusual: maple bacon, vanilla rosewater and potato chip cupcakes.
The cupcake contest for amateur bakers offers some new categories this year for competitors. Winning entries will be chosen by taste in the categories of Best Tasting Chocolate Cupcake and Best Candy Bar-inspired Cupcake, but appearance will count more for homemade creations judged Best Animal-decorated Cupcake and Best Star Wars-themed Cupcake. (The latter two can incorporate multiple cupcakes in the design.) The cost to enter the competition is $10 per category (cash or money order only) and one entry per person per category. Cupcake check-in on festival day is from 11 a.m. to noon, with winners announced and cash prizes awarded around 2 p.m. Rules and the registration form are available on the festival website. Cupcakes baked for the contest aren’t available for purchase, by the way.
Wine and spirits vendors include Robibero Winery, Glorie Farm Winery, Whitecliff Vineyard, Adair Vineyard, Pazdar Winery, Bad Seed Cider and Tuthilltown Spirits. And look for craft vendors Tastefully Simple, Cutco Cutlery, Hollyberries Gypsy Boutique, Creative Gifts by Teresa, Crafty Chics, LulaRoe, Renewal by Andersen, Krafty Cousins, Crown & Stripe Photography, GoodDog Biscuit Co., Hudson Harmony, Periwinkles at Rhinebeck and Scents for You. The Mid-Hudson Misfits, the Accord-based women’s roller derby team, will be on hand, too, offering information about how to get involved in team play.
Food vendors include award-winning Handsome Devil barbecue, Reggae Boy, Bo Jo’s Concessions, Pizza a Legna’s mobile wood-fired pizza oven, Ice Bros. Frozen Treats and La Ruta Del Sol.
Live music acts include the six-piece Black Mountain Symphony, who offer a genre-busting set blending influences from folk music to classical violin and Motown to funk-rock. Also performing will be The Package, former house band for Amy Helm. Will Bryant, Lee Falco and Brandon Morrison come together in a three-piece collaboration making music that spans generations of rock and pop music. Also booked is New Paltz-based The Big Takeover, who offer their own take on reggae, Ska and Rocksteady.
Wright’s Farm is located at 699 Route 208 in Gardiner. There is plenty of parking on site. More information is available at www.gardinercupcakefestival.com or on Facebook.