Cupcake Collective 

Boise's Cupcake Collective promotes creative confections

We're living in the midst of a cupcake renaissance. From New York to Seattle and almost every quirky metropolis in between, stores dedicated entirely to cupcakes are slinging handheld frosted gems to throngs of sugar-hungry patrons. From Los Angeles' Sprinkles Cupcakes, christened "the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze" by the Los Angeles Times, or New York's Babycakes, a purveyor of vegan, kosher and wheat-free cupcakes, this renaissance has brought about a smattering of new flavors, including the Ron Bennington and the Royale with Cheese.

Boise has also gobbled up a piece of the cake. In addition to Lilly Jane's Cupcakes in Eagle, the Treasure Valley is now home to the Cupcake Collective--a group of local cupcake aficionados who have organized an upcoming cupcake competition to benefit the Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Arts.

"Cupcakes are symbolic of just good, happy, fun things," mused TRICA founder and Cupcake Collective member Jon Swarthout. "They're like a chocolate chip cookie. When people think of cupcakes, they just think happy, good thoughts. So it's a celebration of that, kind of like a cupcake circus."

And a circus it will surely be. The Cupcake Collective hopes to entice burgeoning bakers to submit more than 2,000 handmade cupcakes for the event next Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Linen Building. Event organizers are charging a flat $5 entry fee for both cupcake competitors and cupcake eaters. Area judges, including BW's Sally Freeman and the Flying M's Lisa Myers, will award $100 cash to first-place winners and $50 to second-place winners in the following categories: Best Tasting, Best Visual, Best Youth and Honorary Mention. In addition to live music spun by the Vinyl Preservation Society, balloon twisting and fresh lemonade, there are also whispers of organized cupcake conga dancing.

"We're handcrafting a lemonade stand out of recycled materials," said BW's Meshel Miller, one of the Cupcake Collective's founders. "We're trying to make it a really fun event that incorporates fun for adults and for children. It will be family style, but it will also have a lot of really cool things for adults."

Before Saturday's all-ages event kicks off, there will also be a kids' Cupcake Camp at TRICA on Friday, Aug. 14, where kids will learn to bake, frost and decorate their own creations. And though the Cupcake Collective is a sugary nod to childhood nostalgia for its organizers, it also hopes to help create new happy memories for kids by donating all of the event's proceeds to TRICA.

"The proceeds go to benefit TRICA, since we have to raise $4 million," said Swarthout. "[Fund raisers like this are] how we've raised our money so far, and it's actually encouraging. It's not necessarily the easy way ... But it's more empowering."

Saturday, Aug. 15, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $5. Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. For more information on entry requirements, visit cupcakecollective.com.

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