TOWNSEND -- On Saturday, Oct. 20, the library celebrated its third birthday in its new building on Dudley Road, and what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes?
Dozens upon dozens of elaborately decorated displays greeted library patrons on Saturday, all of them made from perfectly frosted confections, as the library hosted its third annual Cupcake Festival, sponsored by Friends of the Library. As chocolate werewolves stared through red hot eyes, howls forming on their fruit roll-up tongues, marshmallows roasted on pretzel spits over melted butterscotch and Life Saver flames. Jelly bean bees, dripping with honey, buzzed on wings of sliced almonds, and the smiling face of Dr. Seuss' the Lorax gazed up through pastel cake pop trees.
"Every year I'm just amazed at what people come up with," said Meg Genoter, a retired pastry chef and one of the event's organizers.
The idea for a cupcake festival came to library Director Stacy Schuttler before the move had ever occurred. Years ago, Schuttler's parents had attended a cupcake festival in Keene, N.H., and Schuttler had always wanted to host a similar event.
"We talked about it at the old library, but there was never enough space or manpower," said Schuttler. "We got to the new building and somebody asked what we could do to celebrate, and I said, 'I know!'"
Since then, the event has been a smashing success.
"People love the word 'cupcake.' You don't usually have to sell the cupcake idea,"
Genoter said the event was smaller than in previous years; still, they ended up with 31 cupcake entries, ranging from simple and elegant to creative and extraordinary.
Brendan Moran, 8, and his brother Nicholas, 6, needed assistance from their mom, Eileen, in carrying in their display, complete with werewolves, ghosts and skeletons made from marshmallows, a chocolate graveyard and spindly candy trees, plus the piece de resistance: A haunted house made out of more than a dozen stacked cupcakes and topped with chocolate-dipped ice cream cones. In total, said Eileen, the display took about 14 hours over the course of four days to craft.
Nicholas said the family has entered the two years previously but had yet to take home the first-place prize.
"We have this rival, the Hiltons, and they always come in first and we really want first this year," he said, grinning ear to ear and noting that one of the members of the rival family just so happened to also be his best friend.
Each year revolves around a different theme. This year, the event was circus-themed. In order to reflect that, the event included face painting, a fortune teller in the teen room and Violet the Clown, played by Heidi Sheputa, in the children's room. But Sheputa's performance had a unique component; she came in to the event in what she referred to as her "mommy" clothes, applying her make-up and layering her costume as part of her act. The purpose was to address the fairly common fear of clowns.
"Sometimes clowns don't like kids to see them when they're not dressed, but I think it's good so they're not scared; they know I'm just a mom underneath," she said to her captivated audience.
As Sheputa performed, the cupcake judging privately took place.
In the end, the rivalry between Brendan Moran and his friend was settled: Both families walked away with first prizes. The Hiltons won "Most Original" in the adult age group for their cupcakes, which appeared to even the keenest observer to be short stacks of pancakes complete with hand-crafted fondant berries. The Morans won "Best Display" in the youth category for their creation.
Winners, in youth, teen and adult age groups included: Kate Rice, Meg Balcher and Dave Schuttler for cutest cupcake; Rachel King, Emma King and the Hilton family for most original cupcake; Bev Gadhoke for best circus theme; the Moran family, Emma King and Julie Mahoney for best display, and Melissa Genoter for the new category, cutest cake pops.
Regardless of the win, though, Brendan and Nicholas agreed that the best part of the competition was being able to indulge in all of their laboriously crafted cupcakes. All the other attendees agreed. Once the winners were announced, the snacking commenced.