The Steinway Academy of Music, one of the entries to this year’s GingerBread Jubilee, was created by Luke Wilder. - Photo by Bob Pennell

The 2008 GingerBread Jubilee

The GingerBread Jubilee is under way again at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. The popular event includes the gingerbread baking/design contest and benefit auction and community tour. Judging and awards ceremony took place on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

The entries will be on display at the theater from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, Nov. 22-26, and the public is welcome to view the creations. Last year over 2,500 people viewed the creations.

The contest was open to all interested bakers — individuals and groups, students, businesses, youth organizations, Scout troops — anyone who loves the challenge of using edible ingredients to create architectural wonders. Bakers competed for over $3,500 in prizes, including a $1,000 Best of Show award. In addition to the competition categories, bakers could also enter in a (non-judged) exhibition category.

The first GingerBread Jubilee took place in 2003. "For the first year of a new concept it was very successful," said Maureen Esser, Craterian development and communications manager, "and it has grown ever since."

Over the years, Esser pointed out, there have been more baker entries, more volunteers, more auction items and more visitors at the exhibition. That enthusiasm has translated into more money raised, and it has provided a creative, wholesome holiday activity for all generations — kids to grandparents.

"It seems to have touched this community in a way that has brought out the creative (spirit) in people as well as people who appreciate gingerbread art and architecture," Esser said.

"It's become more of a tradition in our community," said Cindy Braden, who has been working on the jubilee for six years and co-chaired the event for the fast four years. "People look forward to it. It really kicks off the season downtown."

To help participants master the art and craft of gingerbread design and construction, event organizers held classes to teach would-be bakers basic recipes, ways to save time and tricks to make them more successful in their design, structure and construction efforts.

"When they go home," Braden said, "they can make a house."

Over the years, Esser and Braden have noticed the level of craftsmanship increasing. "The quality is getting better and better," Braden said. "The interest level is really increasing. Having Harry & David involved from the beginning set a precedent. They get so excited every year and it helps. It's an honor to work with them."

Categories for design event entries were: adult/adults (over age 18); student/students (age 18 and under with no adult help); group (mixed ages: adult and student); and exhibition. Qualifying entrees in student, adult and group categories were judged for first ($500), second ($250), and third ($100) place cash prizes in each category. Judging was based on accumulated point values in the areas of appearance, originality, difficulty and precision.

A committee person selected the judges and included architects, builders, people in the culinary business and people in the legal profession to study whether people are really following the rules.

The Best in Show $1,000 prize winner was selected separately by judges as an overall winner. Esser pointed out that people really enjoy voting for the People's Choice Award.

"This year we had three Girl Scout troops with the whole troop involved," Braden said. "We definitely have some awesome male bakers too."

The auction will be held on Friday, Nov. 21, during which the gingerbread art and architecture will be sold, along with gourmet dinners, gifts, getaways and collectibles in silent and live auction bidding. Admission is $3 per person.

All proceeds from the GingerBread Jubilee benefit the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. This is the theater's biggest single fundraising event as opposed to annual membership and sponsorship campaigns.

"We have to raise more than $300,000 in addition to ticket sales and rental revenue to keep the facility running year-round," Esser said. Last year's GingerBread Jubilee generated a profit of over $80,000 for the theater.

"We couldn't do it without the thousands of volunteers and people who come to the events," Esser notes. "The generosity continues even after the auction. Many of the buyers will place their houses in places in the community where they can continue to bring joy to people."

At press time the winners of the 2008 GingerBread Jubilee Design Contest were:

Best of Show: Rebecca Hill for Ginger Pointe Lighthouse

First place: Melisa Corcoran for Noah's Ark

Second place: Heather Cheney for Santa in Wonderland

Third place: Robbin Strain and Teresa Casey for Here Comes Shrek Claus

Student first place: Luke Wilder for Steinway Academy of Music

Student second place: Brenden Corcoran for Transformers

Student third place: Rhiannon Corcoran for Charlotte's Web

Group first place: Hill Family for Hansel & Gretel

Group second place: Corcoran Family for Wall-E

Group third place: Carla & Tess Deems for Cinderella's Christmas Holiday

Call 779-8195, ext. 303.

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