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Cupcakes, fire trucks take over arts center
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Hinesville Fire Department's ladder truck was part of the public safety display outside the performing arts center. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Cupcakes and fire trucks don’t usually go together, but Liberty County residents and their children got a dose of both Wednesday afternoon with a simultaneous Cupcake War and Public Safety Day display at the Performing Arts Center in Flemington.
The family events were part of the weeklong celebration of Georgia Cities Week.
Families began arriving well before the events’ 5:30 p.m. start. They were greeted by twirling blue, yellow and red lights from three fire trucks, a Liberty County Sheriff’s Office patrol car, K-9 unit SUV and a Liberty EMS ambulance. Every few minutes, an officer would turn on the patrol car’s siren, attracting the attention of children.
Representatives from the Hinesville Police Department, Hinesville Fire Department, LCSO, Liberty Regional Medical Center and the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency attended. EMA Director Mike Hodges, Deputy Director Larry Logan and HPD Officer James Williams talked with parents concerned about their children’s safety while volunteers handed out coloring books and other items to children.
“This is a public safety display,” Williams said. “The display gives children a chance to see what our equipment looks like and to learn about what we do on a daily basis.”
The fire trucks took up most of the room at one end of the parking lot and the grassy area behind the arts center. One truck had a 100-foot ladder. Another bright-red and white engine from HFD Station 15 included a display of firefighter safety equipment and uniforms. Even a pink fire truck named Carolyn made an appearance. Firefighters explained that the engine, which is retired from service and used to raise breast-cancer awareness, is named for Carolyn Stevens, a breast-cancer victim and the wife of County Commissioner Marion Stevens.
Inside the arts center, the aroma of cupcakes filled the air. Long lines extended from competing teams’ tables. The theme for this year’s Hinesville Area Arts Council Cupcake War was famous Georgians. Two teams baked cupcakes to celebrate baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and another honored pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. One table really stood out because the team’s chosen Georgia celebrity greeted guests.
Scarlett O’Hara of “Gone with the Wind” smiled sweetly as she waved her fan and invited guests to sample the mint julep cupcakes made by Bonnie Blank and Ann Parker. Scarlett, a.k.a., Shannon McCree, admitted she had nothing to do with making the cupcakes but enjoyed playing the part of Georgia’s most famous Southern Belle.
“This is a lot of fun,” Blank said as she passed a tiny cupcake to an attendee. “Our mint julep cupcake is made with crème de menthe, bourbon and butter with mint extract. We were told we’d need to make at least 300 cupcakes, but we ended up making 369. This is our first time competing in a cupcake competition.”
Across the hall, Sara Burkeen listed the ingredients in her red velvet and cream-cheese flavored Hulk Hogan cupcakes. Her partner, Rachel Heath, also talked about her cupcakes that honored Jackie Robinson, a native of Cairo, Georgia, who became the first African-American to play on a Major League Baseball team. Heath said her cupcakes were white velvet cake with chocolate butter cream topped with a Cracker Jack kernel and a tiny candy baseball.
“I had to hand-draw all the little lines in the baseballs,” Heath said. “We took second place last year. This is our fifth time competing.”
The ladies of the September Sweets team, Kim McGlothlin and Maria Tart, also celebrated Robinson with a white chocolate cupcake with cream filling and mascarpone frosting and a “grand slam cupcake” made with pineapple, bananas and pecans. Katamara Frasier of KT’s Kupcakes & Kandi, and her mom, Elinda Speight, entered a cupcake appropriately called a praline
Guests moved from table to table and sampled one cupcake after the other. When they’d tried every entry, most returned to their favorite table and cast their people’s choice vote by placing tickets in a glass bowl on that table. The first-place and people’s choice winner was Liberty County’s team, September Sweets. Aire Serv took second place, and KT’s Kupkakes & Kandii won third.

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