NEWBERRY — The City of Newberry Parks, Recreation and Tourism is offering a Gingerbread House Competition to add to the 2017 A Very Berry Christmas.
“This was the idea of Anne Pinckney Smith, who is our Christmas Tree fundraiser this year. She has been working since May, raising funds for the Community Christmas Tree project which includes all the downtown decorations and everything we have coming up in November,” said Mary Alex Kopp, tourism and events coordinator.
Smith’s initial idea involved having a competition, hosting the event at the Opera House and having an award ceremony. Kopp then took those initial ideas and researched what the National Gingerbread House Competition does.
“I went on their website, read everything about how they did it there. I downloaded their competition entry form and essentially took from it what I felt would work best for Newberry,” she said.
The Newberry Gingerbread House Competition has two categories — the Newberry Village Competition that is open to all ages, teams or as individuals and the Kids Village Competition open to children ages 6-16.
The winner of the Newberry Village Competition will receive $500, the first runner-up will receive $300 and the second runner-up will get $200. The winner of the Kids Village Competition will receive a gift certificate to the Newberry Arts Center.
“We figured if there is a kid out there or a group of kids who are interested and willing to do something this crafty and creative they deserve the opportunity to go and continue to exercise that creativity at the Arts Center,” Kopp said.
There is a limit on the amount of entries: 12 for the Newberry Village and eight for the Kids Village. Kopp said they will have a waiting list just in case something happens and someone is no longer able to compete.
As for the competition itself, there are a few rules those who sign up should keep in mind, such as the size rule: All entries must be 24 inches wide, 24 inches long and 24 inches high.
The only non-edible component can be the base and Kopp recommends using plywood for that. Everything else must be made out of food and 75 percent of it must be gingerbread.
“Judges will look at it and determine if it appears to be 75 percent gingerbread,” Kopp said. “You can use basically any kind of edible material — candies, icing, fondant, you name it. There are hot sugar techniques folks can use, but that is reserved for the Newberry Village category only.”
Most gingerbread competitions will not allow anything that is not edible, but Kopp said they have strayed away from this a little bit.
“We got to thinking, you can do something really cute with lollipop sticks. We are saying candy should be unwrapped, but if there are non-edible materials that come as part of the candy, we will allow it,” she said.
No lights of any kind and no motors for moving parts are allowed either.
For the Kids Village, Kopp said they really want to stress that these entries are supposed to be made by the child, not an adult.
“We do expect, for safety precautions, that kids will be supervised by an adult, but the adult is not to be the primary builder,” Kopp said.
Judges will also be looking for primarily homemade gingerbread houses for the children’s competition. Kopp said they are not going to be as strict, but for adults if it is apparent you have purchased a kit, you can almost guarantee you are not going to make it very far in the competition.
The judges will be looking for five main criteria: overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme.
“When you apply, you will see at the top, name of Gingerbread Entry, that is what is going to set your theme. You are going to name your house or whatever it is. It does not have to be a house either. You could build a gingerbread motorcycle,” Kopp said.
Since the entries don’t have to be houses, Kopp said she would like to see someone recreate an iconic structure in Newberry.
“We are calling it the Newberry Village and I would love to see somebody pick an iconic piece of architecture to reconstruct it,” she said. “Like what if someone created a Holland Hall from the college?”
Entry forms can be found by visiting newberrychristmas.com. Entry forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; mailed to The City of Newberry Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Office, PO Box 538, Newberry 29108, Attn: Special Events; or faxed to 803-321-2107.
There is no entry fee, and the deadline to sign up is 5 p.m. Nov. 1.
All entries need to be dropped off at The Newberry Opera House on Nov. 29 as the judging will take place that night. The awards ceremony will take place Dec. 2 before the Newberry Christmas Parade. The Gingerbread Houses will be on display until Dec. 20.
“We are excited about it. I think it is exciting. One of the things we want to do is give an extra visual element before you go to a show. In the past we have done art gallery type stuff. It drives traffic for us, but it also drives interest for the city,” said Molly Fortune, executive director of The Newberry Opera House.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.