FARMINGTON — Contestants packed into the kitchen at Farmington's Sycamore Park Community Center at 10 a.m. Saturday and began mixing ingredients for cupcakes.
The second annual Cupcake Wars had begun.
The five contestants and their family members had until 2 p.m. to finish baking and decorating their cupcakes.
At 2 p.m., the four judges entered the room where the cupcakes were displayed to choose the best ones.
When the judges tallied up the points for the five contestants, they discovered there was less than a quarter of a point difference between first place, Emily Rawson, and second place, Halee Isbell.
Rawson's creation was based on concessions at drive-in movie theaters. The 11-year-old said she was inspired by her younger brother's love of cars.
All of her cupcakes were wrapped in the familiar red and white striped wrappers of concession snacks. Rawson inserted straws into some of the cupcakes to make root beer floats, and others had wooden cars on top. One of them had real popcorn nestled in the frosting, and another had a sandwich candy.
To complete the scene, Rawson set up an iPad to run "Monkey Business," a black and white movie from 1952, in the background.
Before the competition, Rawson and her family tested the idea with various cupcakes. She said they started by making banana-split flavored cupcakes with strawberry centers and Coca-Cola flavored cupcakes. Finally, they decided on root beer flavored.
"Out of all the cupcakes, this one turned out the best," Rawson said, indicating the root beer flavored cupcakes displayed next to her drive-in.
Rawson competed in the Cupcake Wars last year and made a lemon cupcake with lemon icing. Even though she didn't win then, she said she enjoyed learning how other participants made their cupcakes.
"It's not really about winning," Rawson said. "It's more about the experience."
While Rawson won the judge's pick, her friend, Isbell, won the People's Choice award for the second year in a row.
Isbell, 14, called her cupcake display "Love Is A Battlefield."
She wanted to make the camouflage-themed cupcakes she had made last summer for a "Duck Dynasty" season premiere party at the Aztec Church of Christ. But she also wanted to incorporate a Valentine's Day theme into her Cupcake Wars submission.
She placed toy soldiers and an American flag around the camouflage cupcakes. Each of the four dozen cupcakes was topped with a handmade, red chocolate heart.
The cupcakes were topped in green frosting and made using yellow and chocolate cake mix in a marble pattern. Isbell added peanut butter and food dye to create the brown and green colors.
"When you cut it open, it's camouflaged," she said.
Last year's competition taught Isbell one important lesson that helped her secure first place in People's Choice for the second year in a row.
"I learned that it's very important to please the kids," she said.