After the turkey has been carved and the pants have been loosened, it’s time to focus on our next holiday, which revolves around tasty treats in imaginative shapes. Move over, Pumpkin Pie, it’s time for Gingerbread. Triangle residents will be able to feel the holiday spirit and knock off a “must do” by visiting this year’s Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest and Gingerbread House competition.
This two-month long festival draws thousands of people to downtown Raleigh to view the tree lighting ceremony and to skate on the Fayetteville Street ice rink. One of the newest events of the festival is the Gingerbread House Competition, and this year it’s moving from the Fairgrounds to Downtown, as well as upping the stakes.
Previously the participants were limited to adults 15 years and up, but this year they have added a children’s category. “This is a great competition that teenagers and adults clearly had a lot of fun participating in, so why not extend that fun to children?” says Kimberly Jones with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. “It’s exciting to see the creativity of a child. We want to give them an opportunity to show it off and have some fun too during the holidays.”
Showing off is easy especially since the contest is not limited to house-like structures. The only requirement for an entry is that the entire structure be edible, excluding the base. The platform can (and should) be decorated with non-edible materials to add flair to the house but otherwise the designer’s imagination can run wild from the ground up.
“You’d never expect to see someone make the Dorton Arena or State Capital out of gingerbread. Last year, a contestant made Saving Grace Animal Rescue,” says Jones. “We’ve seen it all when it comes to gingerbread house designs. There will be a few standard gingerbread houses that you can tell people put a lot of work into but our favorites are the Raleigh icons.”
Declan Halos crafted the gingerbread replica of Saving Grace last year. Halos, an 8th grader at Thales Academy, is ready for this year’s event and has been preparing his plans and materials for two months. “It was an honor to show off inspirational work,” says Declan. Inspiration for their gingerbread house came naturally: Declan’s mother, Kim Halos, has been volunteering for Saving Grace for five years, and Declan adopted their dog, Pocket, three years ago.
Last year’s Gingerbread House competition included 10 competitors and they’re expecting double the entries for this year’s showdown. Judging criteria will be based on overall appearance, creativity and difficulty with winners placing as Best in Show, People’s Choice (voted on by attendees), as well as first and second place.
If you don’t have the craftiness or the patience to compete, mark your calendars to check out all of the gingerbread displays on Dec. 3 from noon to 6 p.m. at 401 Fayetteville Street.