When the Morean Arts Center decided to shake up its fundraising calendar with unusual events, organizers couldn't have dreamed that cupcakes could deliver such a windfall.
Now in its third year, the Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest once again promises to bring out creativity in both novice and professional bakers and bring in the crowds who plunk down a $1 a vote to pick their favorite confections.
It's free for the audience to try samples and just $15 for the bakers' entry fee, but the contest brings in almost $3,000 for the Morean's education programs, said Sarah Aldrich, who heads up marketing for Morean. They had more than 90 entries the first year, so this year the entries are capped at 65 to maintain order.
Only about 30 percent of the entries are professional bakers, Aldrich said, and the creativity just keeps getting better. In the past, cupcakes have come with little gummy versions of Dale Chihuly's glass artwork or in flavors ranging from figs and goat cheese (a People's Choice winner last year), pistachio, black cherry, toffee with salted caramel frosting, various takes on bacon and even chicken and waffles.
The contest starts at noon Saturday at the Morean Arts Center in downtown St. Petersburg, 719 Central Ave. This year the center is using a raffle ticket system to make it easier to use credit cards to stuff the ballot boxes.
There will be awards for first and second place in the Novice and Professional categories and a People's Choice award. Cupcakes will be judged on frosting, cake flavor and texture and on creativity.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer