Saturday, kids ages 8 to 18 competed to demonstrate their ability to speak publicly, manage resources and, most importantly, decorate a mean cupcake.
OSU Extension educator Gerri Ballard said this year’s contest featured 11 kids who baked their cupcakes ahead of time and brought them to The Shops at Ardmore for the contest, where they had 30 minutes to decorate their cupcakes. Then, they presented them to the judges and described exactly how they made the cupcakes.
“It’s all about decorating the cupcakes and using good safety measures, resource management and being creative,” Ballard said. “We’ve done some small-scale wars before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had this many participate at one time.”
The competitors took to recipe books and Pinterest to find ways to create chocolate turkeys, strawberry oceans and marshmallow ghosts. Many of the designs were geared as a Fall or Halloween theme. On the day of the contest they were all given “surprise” ingredients. Each contestant had to choose one of the surprise toppings to include in their decorations.
Alli Townley’s chocolate “Holy Cow” cupcake, literally served in a cup, won her the reserve champion title. She added chocolate bat-shaped toppings, made with a mold, to the top for a seasonal touch, but Townley said the recipe is a staple in her house.
“This is one of my favorite cupcakes,” Townley said. “They’re called that because when people bite into it, they say ‘Holy Cow.’ I got the idea from my birthday party, and this is one that my mom’s made a bunch of times.”
Ethan Lindsey’s monster cupcakes, which were decorated with frosting and candy and sat in cupcake holders with feet, won him grand champion overall.
“I thought it would be fun to do Halloween cupcakes because it’s so close to Halloween,” Lindsey said. “Back when I was in third grade we had a cupcake auction and they came in these stands and we’ve had them ever since.”
He and his brother Nathan have competed in the cupcake contest before. Nathan said this year’s contest went a lot better for him than last year’s, when a mishap with a surprise ingredient left the judges feeling pretty sour.  
“Last year, I was expecting the sprinkles again but all we had was extract,” Nathan said. “I had lemon icing and I thought ‘what goes better with lemon icing than lemon extract. And myself, not knowing what to do with extract, poured it all over the icing and didn’t mix it.”
Before presenting his sports-themed cupcakes to the judges, he assured them he hadn’t used any extract this time.