5 Best Gingerbread House Contests Across the U.S.

Hansel and Gretel would love these edible fantasies

By Nan Bauroth on Tue, 11/11/2014 - 06:00

Ever since Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hänsel and Gretel debuted at Christmas in 1893 in Germany, people the world over have been enchanted by gingerbread houses. In America, that fascination takes the form of community efforts to create the most incredible gingerbread fantasies that delight children and adults. Best of all, most competitions benefit local charity – a fitting tribute to a fairytale rooted in the very real plight of children desperate with hunger.

Here are five of the best gingerbread competitions around the U.S.:

1. Asheville, N.C.The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition

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The granddaddy of all contests, this event lures 200 adult, teen and youth gingerbread artists across the nation vying for a coveted grand prize of $5,000. Last year’s unusual winning design featuring two bears was titled A Peace of Life. Admission is free, but parking costs $10. Half of parking fees are donated to six nonprofits in the Asheville community. The display runs November 19 to January 1 and is open to the public from Sunday to Thursday.

2. Pittsburgh, Pa.The 12th Annual PPG Place Gingerbread House and Train Display

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In the past 12 years, this picturesque display at the PPG Place Wintergarden originally designed as a fun community project has grown from 80 to 500 confectionery creations, all surrounded by a charming train display by artist Don Jones. Admission is free, but a drop box encourages visitors to donate to the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. The display runs from Light Up Night on November 21 to January 7.

3. Louisville, Ky.The Christmas at the Galt House Gingerbread House Contest

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The official hotel of the Kentucky Derby, the legendary Galt House transforms itself at Christmas into a wonderland, including an English Village where it stages showpieces from the hotel’s popular gingerbread house competition, which awards $1,500 in prize money. This year’s charitable beneficiary is the Heuser Hearing Institute. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children 4 to 12, free for children 3 and under. Entrants are shown from November 15 to January 3.

4. Dallas, Texas5th Annual Gingerbread Stroll

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Conceived in 2011 by Dallas real estate agent Christine McKenny in hopes of bringing the community together to raise money for children’s charities, this annual event in Highland Park Village features ornate edible creations by top Dallas pastry chefs displayed in high-end retail stores, including Carolyn Herrera and Baretta Galleries. The public is invited to admire and bid on houses by silent auction. This year’s beneficiary is the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. The displays are in place from November 14 to 30.

5. Evansville, Ind.Aurora’s Midwest Gingerbread House Competition

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More than 1,000 people come to watch this unusual charitable event where 50 teams from all over the midwest compete in building on-site Food Network-style houses. Entrants include pastry chefs and artists from culinary institutions and area bakeries, as well as local gingerbread house enthusiasts. The public can attend the challenge and vote for their favorite by contributing dollars and cents. The goal this year is to raise $45,000 for Aurora’s mission of preventing and ending homelessness in Vanderburgh County. The event is set for Saturday, Dec. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with judging at 2:30 p.m.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Nan Bauroth started her career as Director of Advertising and Promotion for Doubleday Publishing. From there she moved to Wall Street, se...

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