It’s a long-standing holiday tradition. In fact, it’s so long-standing that this year, 2016, marks the tradition’s 30th year. What tradition is that? The annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at George Washington’s Ferry Farm!
Since we are marking three auspicious decades for this event, we dug into the archives to present a look back here on Lives & Legacies.
The contest began in 1987 and, for many years, took place at Historic Kenmore instead of Ferry Farm. Our records are scant for the contest’s first year but we do know that the 2nd annual contest in 1988 saw middle schoolers Lisa Allen and Erika Paulson win best-in-show, according to a Free Lance-Star clipping in our files. Rev. Ed Boutchyard of Bowling Green’s Zion Full Gospel Church made a church with an ice cream cone steeple!
Lisa Allen repeated her best-in-show victory in 1989 with the help of her sister Melanie and friends Theresa Stockdill and Courtney Lucado.
In these early days of the contest, the German Club at James Monroe High School, one of the contest’s longest-running participants, began submitting regular entries and, in 1993, they won their first-ever best-in-show.
In 1995, the Free Lance-Star (scroll up) profiled Claybourne, Emily, and Meredith Beattie, who, having entered the contest for nearly ten years, had only ever won a single 2nd place ribbon. For this family, the “tradition of assembling and decorating the houses is far more important than winning prizes.” The kids, along with mom and dad, would visit their grandmother out-of-town over Thanksgiving break. They created their gingerbread houses there and then traveled the 300-miles back to Fredericksburg with the houses packed in the back of the car. Clay explained that he entered year after year “because I like doing it with my sisters and my family.”
In 2000, the contest and exhibit moved from Kenmore across the Rappahannock River to Ferry Farm, where it has been held every year since.
There’s still time to enter a gingerbread house in this year’s contest and be a part of the tradition! Gather the family, start baking that gingerbread, and creatively decorate your house together. This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays.” Entries are being accepted now through Saturday, December 3 at Ferry Farm. Click here for rules and an entry form.
The exhibit will open to the public on Sunday, December 4. Ferry Farm is open Monday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. General admission to Ferry Farm and the exhibit is $8 adults, $4 students, under 6 free. To view the gingerbread exhibit only, the cost is $4 adults, $2 students, under 6 free. For more details about this and other holiday events at Ferry Farm and Kenmore, visit kenmore.org/events.
Manager of Educational Programs