Where It’s At

2022 Gingerbread Spectacular: How sweet it was!

Thu, 12/22/2022 - 8:15am

    Which gingerbread was your favorite at the 2022 Gingerbread Spectacular? Hard question, isn’t it? If you’re like me, probably more than one, am I right? How about that Carla Warren? Two years in a row now she has created the Most Spectacular gingerbread. Last year I wrote about Carla and her fond obsession with this type of construction and … wait! I just had a visual thought: What if someone built and decorated a giant gingerbread of the Opera House during the annual event? If the person or persons didn’t go bonkers creating all those wee entries … What would that winning ginger be called? Largest, Most Obsessive/Compulsive?

    I was at the sneak preview for this year’s Gingerbread Spectacular at the Opera House on Dec. 16 and there was a great crowd there despite the cold, wind and rain. Holiday spirits were high at the preview – the delicious scent of gingerbread in the air, the outstanding gingerbread creations on display, Barney Balch and friends playing seasonal tunes up on the stage ... And the Opera House was all decked out, shimmering lights, Christmas trees, reds and golds and greens … garlands and nutcrackers …Truly, when you walk in to this event, you are bedazzled, and for one split second you feel like a child again – the lights, the colors, it’s Christmas!

    Kevin Kiley, looking sharp in his gingerbread man-patterned shirt (imagine!) is the master decorator at the Opera House. Some people are blessed with infinite creativity – and he is one of those. Be it Christmas, Halloween, or a summer island vibe when Pan Fried Steel (drum) Band is in the house, his imagination and eye for detail elevate the experience.

    At one point during my first time around photographing and marveling over the details, colors, humor, creativity, and patience displayed before me, Steve Malcom, Martha Barrett and I were checking out the same gingerbread (I believe it was the Best Holiday Spirit/A Snow Mellon Christmas by Sally Kent and Sarah Laurie (first-time gingerbread builders!). At one point Steve reaches into his pocket while checking out the ginger house and I said, “What are you going to do, measure it? See if it’s level?” We all laughed and then he pulled out his glasses to read the story that accompanied the gingerbread. Well, it was funny – Steve, if you are not familiar with him, knows houses: he is the founder/CEO of Knickerbocker Group, a major builder in the region and beyond. And it was a sweet building and the marshmallow snow people were adorable. One of my faves for sure.

    Another pair of first-time builders won the Traditional Gingerbread House Design, (definitely my favorite), and it was a stunner by Terry and Ray Paetzold. The details: windows, decorative piped icing work, the lit Christmas tree in the doorway, the little gingerbread men and the fence in the yard. The side view had multiple windows, each with a wreath hanging in the center. If there was a gingerbread I wouldn’t have minded getting “all Alice” with, it would have been this one. And, while the Friends of the Opera House had delightful baked treats for sale all beautifully packaged, it is doubtful that by taking a bite one could shrink to the appropriate size for this house. Ah well ... Insert heavy sigh here.

    The heavenly scent of ginger was pronounced as I marveled over the Almost Most Spectacular, “Christmas Market,” placed right next to Warren’s Most Spectacular.” I was wearing a mask which, happily, didn’t prevent me from enjoying the olfactory element of this event. 

    Student and individual youth entries: How about that gorgeous Pot Buoy Tree and scene by the class of 2024? That tree was absolutely perfect. The entire gingerbread was a “wowzer!” And it won the team $125 for the class treasury! There was also a charming entry by the class of 2025 – a lighthouse and scene, and the senior class won Best Landscaping for its Christmas Tree Farm. The Youth Explorers of Midcoast U.U. Fellowship won the Most Delicious Looking title for the Village and Candy Factory entry.

    More youth builders: Colman Connelly won Best Youth Entry for his scene of three houses, one with a candy walkway, snowman and tons of candy! And, how great was it to see the charming gingerbread taken from “The Nutcracker: The Battle of the Rat King;” by Evelyn; Polly Nadeau Miller had a cute scene “Honey’s Doghouse,” which may have been based on her real dog, Honey; Grethen Connelly did a sweet Candy House; “Hail to the Queen” Elizabeth II’s crown by Paige McGuire was a sweet tribute to the late monarch; and not surprisingly, Paige’s grandmother is the artistic Mari “Rock Lady” McGuire whose gingerbread of the Steller eagle that visited earlier this year was awarded “Best Depiction of A Local Event;” Mari’s grandson Peyton McGuire made the Dr. Seuss “Green Eggs and Ham” gingerbread. 

    It was a family affair for some. Ginger and the Breadmakers by the Faulstich Fam was rockin’ good fun; the Splaines and Baldwins created the Snack Shack ...

    Making my way to the entrance I spent some time with the Most Creative-winning gingerbread by Rep. Holly Stover and Marge Kilkelly, “Santa Claws.” I loved it. The making of it was a story on Channel 6’s 207 show that aired the night before. So much detail in this statement piece … the bag of coal for the top three on this year’s Naughty List: NOAA, Seafood Watch and Whole Foods; the lobster trap sleigh pulled by seabirds, the tiny details inside the shack, and that giant lobster atop the sleigh! This gingerbread definitely got some conversations going.

    Cathy Sherrill, executive director of the Opera House (and barkeep for the night) said, “Wow. What a show and what a turnout, especially on Sunday afternoon. Packed to the rafters! All around great three days with Friday night drawing a nice crowd of people ready to celebrate. The Friends holiday bake sale sold out. We were thrilled to award Best High School entry to the great BRHS class of 2024 and send $150 to their treasury. Great all around community event. Truly spectacular!”

    Judges Brenda Blackman, Kim Martin, Margaret Branch and Amy Valentine had their work cut out for them. Fortunately they were up to the challenge! And so, one last time, here are the award-winning builders and their gingerbreads:  

    Most Spectacular - Carla Warren (second consecutive win in this category) - for "Christmas Tree Farm;” Almost the Most Spectacular and Largest - Noel Twigg, Areth Foster-Webster, Alison Evans - "Christmas Market;”  Best Traditional Gingerbread House Design - Terry and Ray Paetzold;  Most Creative - Holly Stover and Marge Kilkelly - "Santa Claws;"  Best Representation of a Local Landmark/Woodchucks - Lauri Perkins and Dana Moses; Most Hilarious - "The Great Debate" by Susan Brackett and Bob Eisele; Best Holiday Spirit - Sally Kent and Sarah Laurie; Best Youth Entry - Colman Connelly; Best High School Class Entry - junior class (2024) - “Pot Buoy Tree;” Best Landscaping - Veda Harriman and the BRHS senior class; Most Delicious Looking - Youth Explorers of Midcoast U.U. Fellowship; Best Depiction of a Local Event- Mari McGuire for her "Steller" eagle.