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‘Signature piece’ of season

November 26, 2018

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 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!”

asloboda@jg.net

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