No matter the recipe or technique — whether pre-assembled kit or homemade — the second annual Gingerbread House Competition at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library was one to remember.
Some Tallahasseeans built entire towns from cookies and confectionery. Others paved their walkways with jelly beans. Some paths diverged in a coconut snow wood, and went the cinnamon-y, crunchy cereal route. One participant took the ultimate Floridian approach and strung up gingerbread boat sails with fruit leather candies.
“It’s really interesting to see people’s creativity come to life,” says co-organizer Amy Tipler, an information professional at the library. “We know it is also a morale booster for a lot of people too, especially during this time when things are so hard for everyone. It’s great to be able to see that come to light.”
Tipler and her colleagues Michelle Ray and Alicia Durham were all pleasantly surprised by the amount of engagement they saw from the community this holiday season. Four years ago, the competition was a staff only event that raised money for school supplies and other local charities. Tipler won that first year with her beach house populated with gummy bears.
Last year’s event took place in conjunction with their holiday children’s programming. This year, they pivoted to a virtual competition, and asked community members to submit photos of their finished creations. They received 37 submissions in the child, teen, adult categories.
All houses were guest judged by County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, local chef Leon Brunson, and COCA’s Assistant Director, Amanda Karioth Thompson. The first place houses were announced Dec. 14, and included adult category winner Manna Robertson who constructed a familiar city icon.
“The Old Capitol building is the first thing I think about when I think about Tallahassee,” says Robertson, 18, and a freshman graphic design major at the University of Florida. “It’s a pretty, historic landmark that is recognizable, so I thought it’d be good for the contest.”
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