Amherst community comes together for Dessert Crawl

By Veronica Stracqualursi

The sunny 65-degree fall weather was perfect for Saturday’s first annual outdoor community fundraiser, Amherst Mega Dessert Crawl, for Reader to Reader, Inc. Families and friends got the chance to try 20 different desserts for $20 at 20 different locations spread along downtown Amherst.

Veronica Stracqualursi/ Collegian

“There are a lot of places I have yet to explore in the Valley, food-wise. This is a really good introduction for this,” said Nora O’Connor, a Mount Holyoke student who came to the Dessert Crawl on an empty stomach so she could try everything.

O’Connor’s favorite desserts were the chocolate mousse from Chez Albert and the blueberry cake given out by Henion Bakery.

“So far it’s amazing. They have really great portable little portions, but they’re still very generous,” she said.

At 12:30 p.m., when the fundraiser started, New Mexico residents Jeff Chen and Kyle Zlark and former Reader to Reader mentees stopped to sit on a bench and taste their third dessert, cider doughnuts from Glazed Donut Shop.

“The desserts are all good. We’re pretty excited for the rest of them,” said Chen, who was visiting Amherst during his fall break.

Gabriel Tellez and Chris Herrick, UMass Amherst seniors, also stopped by Glazed Donut to get their hands on some cider donuts.

“I am a huge dessert person. It’s pretty exciting so far,” Tellez said. One of their favorite desserts from the Mega Dessert Crawl was the tres leches cake, a Mexican dessert, from La Veracruzana.

“It was really good. It was like a surprise. I wasn’t expecting it,” Herrick said.

The 20 Amherst restaurants that participated included Froyoworld, Bart’s Homemade Café, The Pub and Paradise of India.

The Loose Goose Café, another participating business, handed out Sugar Jones Cookies in different flavors.

“I think it’s great for the community, for all of us to be a part of it,” said Larry Severance, the owner of Loose Goose Café. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day either.”

Loose Goose Café was also one of the spots you could buy tickets leading up to the event along with the UMass Campus Center, Amherst College and Hampshire College. The day of the event, people bought their tickets at Kendrick Park and were given a map with all the participating businesses highlighted.

Phi Sigma Pi approached the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID), who sponsored the event along with Steve Lewis Subaru, with the idea to do the Mega Dessert Crawl as a fundraiser.

“It took a long time to plan so it’s exciting it’s finally happening,” said Michelle Vibberts, a volunteer for the event and member of Phi Sigma Pi.

Kelsie Krafton, another volunteer and member of Phi Sigma Pi, said the co-ed national fraternity sold over 100 ticket booklets themselves.

“We plan to do it again next year. We hope it will be an annual fundraiser for Reader to Reader and a great way to get the students to know a lot of the restaurants downtown,” said David Mazor, the executive director of Reader to Reader and marketing director of Amherst BID.

75 percent of proceeds go to Reader and Reader, Inc., an Amherst-founded organization devoted to expanding literacy. Mazor said this is the first time the organization has collaborated with a UMass fraternity. The remaining 25 percent goes to the participating Amherst businesses.

According to Mazor, 220 booklets were sold, but more than 220 people participated because several split the booklet tickets.

“It’s a fun mid-afternoon event. Just walk around and eat until you can’t eat anymore,” Mazor said.

Veronica Stracqualursi can be reached at [email protected]