Ryder is a cake baker, sugar artist and teacher from Falls Church and one of the directors of the recent National Capital Area Cake Show. He said about 4,000 people came to the show and more than 100 people participated in contests for wedding cakes, cupcakes and other divisions.

Who comes to the cake show?

We have a number of people planning weddings come through. ... And we have a lot of folks who just like looking at cakes. They've been inspired over the years by the challenges on TV. ... And so they want to see up close and personal exactly what can be done with cakes.

Does competition get intense?

It is very intense, yeah. This year I think I saw that the total was over $30,000 in cash prizes awarded to the winners, and the competition gets fairly stiff. Some of the best decorators in the country come to compete.

What was the theme for the wedding cake competition this year?

The theme this year was art deco cakes. The winning cake was done by Irene Maston, who is from Vermont. And in fact, in the five years we've done the show, she has won that particular competition three times. ... There was a lot of throwback to the look of the '20s and the Great Gatsby era.

Do you see new baking trends, or is the cupcake trend still going strong?

Cupcakes and things aren't going to go away, I think. For the cupcake challenge for next year, we are going to follow a trend: People are using more and more herbs, so our theme for next year is "From the Garden."

What's your favorite part of cake decoration?

My favorite part is the reactions that I get from people when I bring out a cake -- to see how many people I can make happy just by doing something that I love to do.

- April Burbank