Edible Creation in Gingerbread Is Delicious Show in Manahawkin

By Victoria Ford | Dec 11, 2019
Photo by: Victoria Ford The Gingerbeards created the Empire State Building for the first-place win.

Stafford Township — Lining the perimeter of the Stafford Township municipal meeting room last week was a delicious village of gingerbread buildings, designed and built by local families and businesses competing for trophies and prizes.

According to Lisa Lopez of Home Alliance Realty, the Home Sweet Home Gingerbread Competition took the better part of this year to plan and organize, in partnership with the town’s recreation department. Recreation is “always looking to improve events and bring people together,” according to Assistant Recreation Director Jason Hazelton. Fliers were distributed at Founders Day in June and again at the Fall Harvest Festival in September to generate interest in entering.

The underlying concepts are nostalgia and simple pleasures, Lopez said. Her own kids, now 26 and 22, have fond memories of building gingerbread houses as a family – so she wanted to bring back the quality-time activity as an alternative to digital forms of entertainment. The idea is: “Put down the electronics and make something special together.”

Entrants included three families and four businesses. One family exemplified the spirit of the event: The young son drew the plans, Dad oversaw construction while Mom perfected the gingerbread recipe, and the 2-year-old daughter was the taste tester.

JB Awards provided the shiny trophies and Reynolds Garden and Landscaping Center assembled a gorgeous grand prize gift basket. The panel of judges included architect Craig Brearley’s office, Jess Bartlett from Cake That!, Janice and Ginger Eismann from Lucille’s Candies (marking its 92nd year in business this year) and Mayor Greg Myhre.

According to the contest parameters, the buildings had to be 100 percent edible except for the base.

Judges examined the entries and cast their votes at town hall Thursday; open voting would take place the whole next day for the people’s choice category. The winners were announced at the tree lighting ceremony Friday evening, which included ice sculptors, live music by Navesink Brass, train rides and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“It was a great night, even with the rain,” Hazelton said.

Winners in the business category, from first to third place, were Element, Progressive Dimensions Countertops and Van Dyk, with an honorable mention for WJRZ. In the family category, first place went to “The Gingerbeards,” who built an Empire State Building complete with Donkey Kong; second to the Norman family, and third to the Wyrsch grandchildren. The Normans also won the people’s choice award for their quaint little log cabin.

Myhre said he was impressed by the participation for a first-year event; the hope is to make it an annual tradition and grow it to include more entries.

Bartlett said in her judging strategy she was mostly looking for originality and attention to detail. She was also gleaning inspiration to take back to the shop, where she already offers gluten-free vegan gingerbread cookies and cakes.

Janice Eismann said, “I’m really excited about this. I would like to see even more involvement next year. People will be inspired by what they see here.”

— Victoria Ford


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