FD: Contest brings feel of old-fashioned Christmas in Palisade

Photos special to the Sentinel
Frances Blackwelder’s winning entry in the 2007 Gingerbread House Contest and Showcase had plenty of decorative and edible details. There were nine evergreen trees, a snowman, birds on the trees, a rabbit running by an ax and wood pile, wreaths and garland made of rosemary needles, all inserted into royal frosting with tweezers; a mailbox with her name on it; and Santa Claus’ feet and legs sticking out of the chimney.



Photos special to the Sentinel
Frances Blackwelder’s winning entry in the 2007 Gingerbread House Contest and Showcase had plenty of decorative and edible details. There were nine evergreen trees, a snowman, birds on the trees, a rabbit running by an ax and wood pile, wreaths and garland made of rosemary needles, all inserted into royal frosting with tweezer; a mailbox with her name on it; and Santa Claus’ feet and legs sticking out of the chimney.



Photos special to the Sentinel
Frances Blackwelder’s winning entry in the 2007 Gingerbread House Contest and Showcase had plenty of decorative and edible details. There were nine evergreen trees, a snowman, birds on the trees, a rabbit running by an ax and wood pile, wreaths and garland made of rosemary needles, all inserted into royal frosting with tweezer; a mailbox with her name on it; and Santa Claus’ feet and legs sticking out of the chimney.



It all started at a Palisade Olde Fashioned Christmas meeting last year when the vision of building the Gingerbread House Contest to one with many entries and categories came into being and into my hands.

A Gingerbread House Contest and Showcase just seemed to add the aroma and feel of a true old-fashioned holiday that takes you away from all the hustle and bustle.

So, off we set with last year’s contest with hopes creating this into an event that adds to the memories of Christmas past, present and hopefully for many years to come.

Those who entered last year did just that. We were overwhelmed with the charm and beauty of the entries, not to mention the number of participants.

We interviewed last year’s participants who shared their gingerbread memories, offering hints for first-time builders.

Frances Blackwelder won first place in adults category last year and was a “first time” gingerbread house builder.

Blackwelder, who works at Vista Engineering, used AutoCAD software to visualize her plans (yes, modern technology came into play for this centuries old tradition). Then she had her plans cut to scale on mylar.

Using her pocket cookbook’s recipe for gingerbread, she began making what ended up being four batches of dough, one batch at a time.

Once the sections were cut and baked, she poured the sugar windows and allowed all the pieces to dry for several days.

The assembly also took several days, as she let each part dry after it was put together.

“Once my mountain lodge was assembled, it looked pretty drab before the decorating and addition of accessories” Blackwelder said.

If you’re making a gingerbread house with the help of children, Blackwelder suggested putting the structure together one day, letting it dry and then let the children decorate as desired, allowing each layer to dry completely.

Blackwelder also wanted to remind those entering the contest all that everything has to be edible on gingerbread houses.

For the contest, gingerbread kits are allowed for children.

When asked how she decided to enter last year’s contest, second-place winner in a children’s category,
9-year-old Victoria Talbott said: “My grandfather came home with a kit and said we were entering and so we did, and it was really fun to make.”

This year Victoria and her grandma Claire Talbott are going to make a gingerbread house from scratch.

Winner in her category last year, 17-year-old Jessica Lane, also used a kit, but it her a month to complete the house.

“I really had fun, couldn’t believe I won, and I was especially proud of the first place ribbon,” Jessica said.

She said it was sometimes hard to find the exact candy she wanted for decoration, but “it was also a great way to use up the leftover Halloween candy.”

Last November, Anna Fasken, 15, had a Palisade High School geometry project assignment to build some type of farm. While her classmates used materials from craft stores, she decided to use gingerbread.

“I learned that making gingerbread houses take a lot of patience, and I had to make sure everything was to scale, incorporating the angles and principles of geometry that taught me a lot,” Anna said.

“Something that helps when you are putting walls up is holding them there with canned food. Sounds crazy but it works better than sitting there and holding them till they dry.”

Fasken got an A on the project.


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