On December 29th, 2012, all cupcake connoisseurs, bakeries, and restaurants throughout Bethlehem, PA are invited to compete for the title of Best Cupcake.

Vendors participating include:

These 17 vendors are preparing for a crowd of over 300, with tickets going fast at $25 a pop. All proceeds will benefit ArtsQuest Arts Education Programming Fund.

A judging panel will determine winners in the categories of Best Frosting, Best Cake, Best Decoration and Best Overall Taste. Live music will be provided by the Dan DeChellis Trio and the event will be emceed by WLEV host Josh Gears.

Cupcakes will be limited to three varieties, with the size of the cupcake left up to the contestants to decide.

Josette Vadala launched her online cupcake business, Cuddles’ Cupcake Bar, in November. She’s based out of Bethlehem and says that even if she doesn’t win, “this will give me exposure to more local clients.” “I figure if I’m going to go in, I should go big,” Vadala says with a laugh.

James-Ryan Lundy, cake decorator at The Flour Shop in Bethlehem, says he sees the event as good exposure. It’s a first competition for him and the first cupcake competition for The Flour Shop.

They’ll be making a Salty Turtle (Chocolate Cake stuffed with Pecans and Caramel, Sea Salt and Chocolate Ganache on top), a Waffle House (Buttermilk Cupcake with Sweet Bacon Marmalade and Maple frosting), and a Sour Cream Apple Pie (Cinnamon Cake with Apple filling and Crème Fraiche Buttercream and a crumb topping).

The flavors are creations specially designed for the contest, but if they win favor with the public, Lundy says they’ll add them to the case.

Antonella Gaglione, owner of Antonella’s Bakery, is also looking to impress with the flavors that keep her regulars coming back, and show a little taste of her Italian specialties. She always keeps a few dozen cupcakes in her case, a mix of plain and filled or flavored.

She’ll be whipping up a Butter Pecan Cupcake with Maple Buttercream icing, a Tiramisu Cupcake and a plain Chocolate or Vanilla variety for those with a nut allergy or an aversion to coffee flavors.

“At first I thought ‘We’re not really a cupcake bakery — we’re more of an Italian bakery.’ But we’re just going to go in there and have a great time (win or lose),” Gaglione says.

It will be the first competition for Gaglione, but not her first community event by a longshot.

“It’s for the future,” she says, adding that the fundraising for youth arts education is what made the event even sweeter for her.

12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday

ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem

Tickets cost $20 for ArtsQuest members, $25 for others. All proceeds go toward ArtsQuest’s Arts Education Programming Fund. The event is sold out.

For more information, call the box office at 610-332-3378.

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