Gardiner Cupcake Festival returns to Wright’s on May 20

Ainsley Kouhout of Rosendale at the Gardiner Cupcake Festival in 2014. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Since it first got started in 2009, the Gardiner Cupcake Festival has hit upon a winning formula that doesn’t vary all that much — not since it relocated from its street-festival origins to the more sheltered, parking-friendly environs of Wright’s Farm on Route 208. Each year, thousands of people turn out for the live music, fun kids’ activities, a 5K race to run off all those calories and, most importantly, a bewildering array of choices of mouthwatering morsels of the cakey kind. If you’ve ever sampled a maple/bacon cupcake, it probably happened here.

This year’s Gardiner Cupcake Festival takes place this Saturday, May 20, with registration for the Cupcake Classic 5K Run beginning at 9:15 a.m. and the scenic race through the orchards getting underway at 11. The registration fee for runners and walkers is $30. Admission to the Festival itself, including parking, costs $5 for anyone aged 7 and up.

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This year’s live entertainment includes the Black Mountain Symphony, from the Saratoga area, and two local bands: vocalist Kayla Rae, and Stack & the Pack, whose bassist, Brandon Morrison, is going on tour with Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen this summer. As you enter the grounds, you’ll pass by some of the artist-designed “GOST Doors” from the Gardiner Open Studio Tour, which are for sale. “They’re my most favorite thing about the whole thing,” says Festival host Tammy Boylan, who hosts the Festival and helps her daughters Mackenzie and Samantha organize it. “They’re going to be set up by the entrance.”

Inside the grounds, you can turn the kids loose on a variety of family-friendly free activities, including three bouncy houses, wagon rides around the orchard, games, temporary-tattoo parlors, a petting zoo, a cornhole toss and lots more. You can boogie to the beat of the bands, browse the many craft-vendor stalls, chow down on something from the food trucks or just ponder the agonizing choices of which kinds of cupcake — from classic to bizarre — you most want to consume. This year there’ll be a “baker’s dozen,” says Tammy, of cupcake vendors alone: Mid-Hudson Cakes, Deising’s Bakery, Periwinkle’s at Rhinebeck, On a Stick Bakery, Ms. Vee’s Sweet Treats, Peace Love and Cupcakes, Cake Heights, Mimmy’s Mini-Cakes & More, Kokopelli Cookies, Kupcake Kouture, Grano Gluten-Free, Antonio’s Cupcake Factory and Wright’s Farm.

If you’re a baker yourself, inspired by the levels of creativity and imagination on display in the cupcake universe in recent decades, you might want to compete in the 2017 Amateur Cupcake Contest. This year’s special prize categories include Best-Tasting Spicy Cupcake, Best-Tasting Fruit Cupcake, Best Food-Inspired Cupcake and Most Striking Cupcake. First-place winners in each category receive a $100 cash prize. Though walk-ins are welcome, contest entrants are requested to preregister if possible; the registration form can be downloaded at http://gardinercupcakefestival.com/amateur-cupcake-contest.

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