Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jessica Guack, 9, points to pieces of a display during her visit Sunday afternoon to the Festival of Gingerbread at the History Center. The festival runs through Dec. 9.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Bob and Laurie Michalak, right, listen to Jessica Guack, 9, left about her findings during the 33rd annual Festival of Gingerbread at the History Center Sunday afternoon.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Festival of Gingerbread entry by 6 Autumns Food & Spirits depicts the toboggan run at Pokagon State Park.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Courtney Poswinski, right, and her son Logan, 11, observe one of the many gingerbread houses at the 33rd annual Festival of Gingerbread at the History Center Sunday afternoon.
The Festival of Gingerbread entry by 6 Autumns Food & Spirits depicts the toboggan run at Pokagon State Park.
Monday, November 26, 2018 1:00 am
125 entries at Festival of Gingerbread
'Signature piece' of season
Edible creativity on display at History Center
ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette
Festival of Gingerbread competition winners
Prekindergarten to second grade, individual
1. Frances Beck
2. Connor Dreibelbis
3. Gemma Schroeder
Prekindergarten to second grade, group
1. Tim, Brad, Jilly and Becca Sellhorn
2. St. Joseph Hessen Cassel second grade
3. American Heritage Girls-Tenderheart
Third to sixth grade, individual
1. Mary Schroeder
2. Alyssa Anderson
3. Christopher Oliver
Third to sixth grade, group
1. Ellie and Alivia Louden
2. Elise Estabrook and Madilyn Neff
3. Holy Cross Lutheran School No. 2
1. Leila Niblick
2. Shelby Anderson
3. Allison Bear
1. The Murphys
2. Lauren Bower
1. Danielle Oliver
2. Jenn Grush
3. Angelika Bensch
1. Ivy Tech Advanced Decorating and Candies Class
2. Delta Sigma Theta Inc.
3. Helman Ladies
1. Grandma, MaeAnna and Aidan
2. The Stone Family
3. The Beard Family
1. Cookie Friends
2. Jenny Schroeder
* People's Choice Awards and honorary awards will be announced at the end of the festival.
Of all the edible construction materials used in the 125 Festival of Gingerbread entries – including Triscuit crackers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, peppermints, gumdrops, Peeps, candy canes and chocolate bars – Smarties unfailingly caught Lucy Stahl's eye Sunday.
“Smarties are her favorite candy,” said Candice Stahl, the 5-year-old's mother. “She's noticed them in every one.”
The pair are among thousands expected to visit The History Center as it hosts the 33rd annual Festival of Gingerbread through Dec. 9.
“We're thrilled to present it every year,” Executive Director Todd Maxwell Pelfrey said, calling the event a “signature piece of Fort Wayne's holiday experience.”
The festival typically attracts 12,000 visitors who, aside from children 2 and younger, pay $4 or $6 in admission. The fees support programs at The History Center, 302 E. Berry St.
Although there wasn't a theme for entrants to follow, Pelfrey said, similarities emerged among gingerbread creations. This year included multiple gingerbread villages, beaches, farms and displays with campers.
In one display, a game of cornhole and a campfire were created with such materials as graham crackers and an ice cream cone. The camper's awning was upheld by three stacks of Smarties.
“Mommy, how are these sticking?” Lucy asked.
Sunday marked Lucy's and her 4-year-old cousin Charlotte Stahl's first trip to the Festival of Gingerbread.
“They're very excited,” Candice Stahl said, noting the girls are the perfect age for the event.
Candice Stahl and Courtney Stahl, her sister-in-law, marveled at an entry in the professional category – a gingerbread home based off the Charles Niezer/Dale McMillen House on Westover Road near Foster Park.
“I can't even imagine putting this one together,” Candice Stahl said.
Jerrion Turner appreciates the creativity on display.
“I'm a fan of the art,” he said.
A regular attendee, Turner shared the experience this year with his 4-year-old daughter, Niiami. She kept pulling him toward her favorite gingerbread creation – a mostly pink and white entry called A Pinkalicious Christmas.
It wasn't always clear how – or with what – the entries were made, but at least one group made it easy. Preschoolers from the Early Childhood Alliance documented their work in a booklet left next to their Baby Shark display.
They made sand with crushed leftover snacks and frosted the five sharks with icing, the booklet stated, ending with: “We had so much fun!”