EPHRATA, Pa. — Last year, the Adams County Art Council in southeastern Pennsylvania started a new Christmas tradition, an annual gingerbread house competition and display. About 20 creative, colorful gingerbread houses decorated the arts council facility for the first three days of December, in conjunction with its annual holiday show and sale.
Located in Gettysburg, Pa., the arts council is a nonprofit organization that benefits local artists. Karen Hendricks, interim executive director of the council’s annual art show, said the Gingerbread House Celebration raises funds for the art show and “spreads holiday cheer and goodwill.” Last year, the council held a gingerbread workshop for under-privileged children.
The gingerbread architecture in December ranged from traditional to recreated famous buildings.
“December is a fun month to play,” said Shelley Funt, executive chef at the Gettysburg Hotel, about her involvement in making the gingerbread creations. Funt and her staff participated in the first Adams County Gingerbread House Celebration also. “(Making gingerbread houses are) a fun, creative outlet. It’s not about winning.” The event is a bonding opportunity for Funt and her staff, she said, as they are busy at work most of the time.
Judges at this year’s Gingerbread House Celebration included Michael Vysocil, editor of “Celebrate Gettysburg” magazine; Kathy Nelson, director at the United Way of Adams County; and Kathy Glahn, owner of Gettysburg’s Farm to Chef and founding president of the Adams County Farmers Market Association.
Celebrating gingerbread house designs also happens to be a 30-year tradition at Peddler’s Village, a Colonial-style community of year-round specialty shops, located in Lahaska, Pa., in Bucks County.
From now through Jan. 1, 85 unique gingerbread creations are on display at Peddler’s Village in the gazebo. The competition is open to the public and contestants compete for cash prizes.
Peddler’s Village contestants have the option of entering one of four categories, which include “Traditional Gingerbread,” “Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building,” “Incredibly Unusual Three-Dimensional Gingerbread Creation” and “Go Green” categories.
“Last year, we had a smart car,” said Eve Gelman, public relations and digital communications manager for Peddler’s Village, about the “Go Green” category, noting that it is the newest of the categories. Children and teenagers can also compete against their peers, either in a kids-only contest for ages 12 and under, or the student category which includes entrants aged 13-18 years old.
A panel of culinary specialists judged the gingerbread houses at Peddler’s Village, including Debi Lang, gingerbread seminar instructor and member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals.
The contestants “share a passion for creating gingerbread structures,” said Gelman.