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Cupcake Cup rallies Central Pa. bakers for a cause

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Last year’s Harrisburg Cupcake Cup featured more than 40 cupcake varieties, and the same is expected for this year’s event on Oct. 6, 2013.
Last year’s Harrisburg Cupcake Cup featured more than 40 cupcake varieties, and the same is expected for this year’s event on Oct. 6, 2013. - (Photo / )

What started as a baking challenge among three Twitter friends has now become a 300-attendee cupcake competition. Celebrating its fifth year, the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup is run by the community, for the community, raising funds for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. And it's the delicious brainchild of your very own Main Dish blogger — me!

This coming Sunday, Oct. 6, cupcake bakers from around the region will face off at The Abbey Bar (aka the second floor) at Appalachian Brewing Co. in Harrisburg, which is the event's main sponsor in conjunction with Greenbelt Events. But don't be fooled; while the event is technically held at a bar, it is definitely an all-ages event. And with 45 amateur and professional bakers competing for the honor of tastiest and most creative cupcake, we're estimating that more than 700 cupcakes will make an appearance!

Here's how this self-sustaining community event works: Contestants from the community make cupcakes for the community to sample. These cupcakes are then scored by judges from the community for a chance at prizes donated by community sponsors. Community volunteers staff the event. Oh, and everything from the venue to the napkins is donated by community members.

How can you get in on the sweet festivities? The doors open at 2 p.m., and you're welcome to stop by to try a cupcake (while supplies last!) and to support the contestants. Admission is free, but monetary and food donations will be collected for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. A $3 donation or three nonperishable food items earn you a coupon valid for one cupcake of your choice. Judging will go until about 3 p.m., and the winners will be announced by 4 p.m.

Last year, we collected 311 pounds of food and $3,035 for the food bank, and we most certainly hope to top that this year. Did you know that for every $1 donated, the food bank can distribute $15 worth of food or six meals to individuals in need? Or that it can turn 1.25 pounds of donated food into one meal for an individual in need? That's pretty amazing, and it's exactly why I hold this fundraiser every year.

Aside from the community impact (and the cupcakes!), the best part of this event is that I've made it my little social media experiment. I purposely don't use traditional marketing, such as press releases, posters and print advertising. Instead, Facebook is my primary channel for spreading messages about the Cupcake Cup. And given that this week we hit more than 1,000 Facebook likes, I think it's working.

Interested in volunteering on the day of the event? Join our Team Cupcake group on Facebook and you'll get "paid" in cupcakes.

Feel free to take a look at photos from previous Cupcake Cups to get a preview of what's in store for you this Sunday. Just try not to drool all over yourself in the process.

See you at the Cup!

Erica Reed

Erica Reed

Erica Reed is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.

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