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Gingerbread Wonderland contest serves up sweet creations

9December 2020

Creativity was on full display in one of the Twin Cities’ most popular food art events of the year. From whimsical to cozy and iconic Minnesota to classic settings, Norway House Gingerbread Wonderland garnered about 90 contest entries this year.

Winners were crowned in 10 categories by judges Sue Zelickson (James Beard Award winner and founder of the Charlie Awards, Women Who Really Cook and the Minneapolis and St. Louis Park Kids Cafes), Lee Svitak Dean (cookbook author and former Taste editor at the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune) and Nancy Ngo (food and lifestyle reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press).

In addition to the traditional nine categories, one was added to the mix this year.  Crowning a “Best of 2020” was in order after a display called “Deck of Cards” collapsed after transport. It was clear before this happened how well thought out the gingerbread creation was. The person who put it together even had friends each send a decorated gingerbread piece to make it a group project while keeping things socially distanced. Between the social distancing and the grand plans for it getting cancelled, the symbolism represented 2020 well. And though the deck was stacked against, it was a reminder that there was always hope.

As far as viewing the creations, note that Norway House has been impacted by the latest Governor’s orders, and the exhibit is temporarily closed to the public. Exhibit hours have changed to run from Dec. 19 to Jan. 3. But as things can change day to day, visit the website for the latest updates. In the meantime, the gingerbread creations can be viewed via a video exhibit online and on social media with Norway House doing some fun things for your viewing pleasure.

And in addition to the judges’ picks shown here (along with comments from the creators of each exhibit), the “People’s Choice” awards are back again this year. Viewers can look at the displays via a video exhibit online at norwayhouse.org and vote for their favorite. Votes can be submitted through Dec. 23 with the winners announced on Dec. 24. Nonmembers of Norway House are asked to pay $5 on the website when they visit to view the video and list of structures. They can then vote for their favorite from there.

BEST OF MINNESOTA

“Minnehaha Creek,” by Susan Droegemueller

This scene features a canoeing gingerbread man on the creek.

MOST CREATIVE

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Three Little Pigs — A Winter Scene,” by the Young Family

Our family worked on it together — parents and two girls ages 7 and 9. Everything is edible except for the wolf. We love doing this every year and are happy to participate again!

BEST AMATEUR

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Holidays at Hogwarts,” by Maggie Karschnia

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter series.

BEST KIDS

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Gummy Bear Cottage,” by Arielah King, Rosalie and Leela

A cottage inhabited by bears.

BEST PROFESSIONAL BAKER

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Mindekirken: The Norwegian Lutheran Church,” by Steph Kissinger and Kelly Loso

This historic church is located adjacent to Norway House in Minneapolis. This is one of three intricate structures made this year by the talented team at Sweet Retreat.

MOST KOSELIG (COZY)

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Northwoods Cabin,” by Breta LaVasseur and Penny Birdsall

This detailed cabin features rocks made with gingerbread clay and a roof of gingerbread.

MOST WHIMSICAL

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Carousel Enchantment,” by Renee and Kirsten Poppenhagen

Constructed out of gingerbread, royal icing, gum paste and painted with food coloring. Entirely edible, with the exception of LED lights and dowels to hold the reindeer. Yes, that is Santa and his reindeer!

BEST CLASSIC

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Winter Lake Cabin Fun,” by Annie Marois

Winter cabin scene with a cozy cabin, 3D trees, a lit skating pond with children skating and building a snowman.

BEST INTERNATIONAL

(Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

“Troldhaugen — Edvard Grieg’s House,” by Jay’d Hagberg

A top tourist destination near Bergen, Norway. This gingerbread rendering features a miniature piano on the rooftop!

BEST OF 2020

  • “House of Cards,” (before) by Biddiez. (Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

  • “House of Cards,” (after) by Biddiez. (Courtesy of Amy Coppersmith)

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“House of Cards,” by Biddiez

Made by a group of St. Olaf freshman corridor mates that met in 1976. Each woman made their own “hand” of cards. Heather Vick assembled the pieces, baked in many local cities with one set flown in from Seattle. Before and after photo provided. This structure collapsed in the exhibit from heat after an abnormally warm November weekend! Emblematic of 2020.

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