It was, appropriately, over shaved ice that Miraya Berke and Liang Shi came up with the idea for a dessert festival. Berke, who has a background in events, and Shi, a designer, teamed up and founded Dessert Goals. After selling 1,000 tickets within minutes of opening registration for their first event in fall 2016, Berke and Shi knew they were onto something big with their dessert-centric event. Eight events later (two of which took place in Los Angeles), Dessert Goals NYC is now a 3,000-6,000-person, multiday festival.
Beyond carefully selecting vendors for each event, Dessert Goals’ mission is to create a full experience that makes it “the best day ever” for attendees. The Instagram Garden is expertly designed with backdrops and encourages guests to snap pictures of their desserts and share with their social media following. The salt bar is stocked with snacks to cleanse palates between treats and, if it wasn’t already sweet enough, there’s also a free candy bar. “The experience is designed to make you feel like a kid at any age,” says Berke.
Each iteration of Dessert Goals features a new venue and theme to make it feel new; return vendors are also limited. “Once we have a theme, we think through the graphic branding for the event, the photography backdrops, how vendors can make exclusive desserts and what the décor will be. We’ll also add songs to the playlist that go with the theme,” says Berke, who is now leading the charge while Shi pursues other endeavors.
Vendors are known to pull out all the stops at Dessert Goals. “Rebecca’s Cake Pops is an attendee favorite,” says Berke. “She makes stunning cake pops that are works of art. At Dessert Goals she launched her ‘boucakepop,’ an ice cream cone filled with cake pops, and for each event she has new characters and creations. Attendees can’t get enough!”
Sponsors also play a role in engaging guests. Duncan Hines made a station at the March 2018 event where attendees were guided through making their own mug cake. Red Vines and Sour Punch sponsored the candy bar at the March 2019 event and built a candy curtain backdrop that guests walked through to get inside. Petmate, another sponsor at the most recent event, designed a Central Bark dog and human café (a play on “Friends” Central Perk).
The new generation of festivalgoers, indeed, is being indulged at Dessert Goals.