It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas over at the Ford Center. Starting Dec. 4 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the fifth annual Gingerbread House Village will hold its opening ceremony and reception, welcoming in the spirit of the Christmas season.
Kate Meacham is the marketing director for the Ford Center for the Performing Arts and said the Ford Center sponsors the Gingerbread House Village each year to benefit local food banks.
“The event is totally free to the public,” Meacham said. “But we will be taking up canned goods for our local food banks, The Pantry, and the Ole Miss Food Bank. Monetary donations will also be accepted, but neither is required to attend. It’s completely voluntary. But we do divide everything equally between the two food banks.”
Meacham said the Gingerbread House Village began in 2010 and only had four houses that first year.
“This year we’re expecting around 20 houses,” Meacham said, “But we’re really never quite sure exactly how many will be on display until everyone gets here. We do ask that people sign up in advance and most do, but usually there will be someone who just shows up with their house and room permitting, they’re always welcomed. It always works out, because usually there will be someone who can’t make it for one reason or another.”
Meacham said they were very excited about this year’s event since 20 houses will fill them to capacity and give people a very wide variety to see and enjoy.
“This is about four or five more houses than we’ve ever had,” she said, “so we’re very excited.”
The event starts Thursday, Dec. 4, with an opening reception at 6:00 p.m. and continues through Thursday, Dec. 18.
The gingerbread houses are usually constructed at home by the artists and the basic requirement is that the base for each house is no larger than 2.5 feet, but can feature multiple houses. Submissions are not usually made from a kit, but rather handmade with the majority of the house being actual gingerbread.
“The first year we did this we petitioned bakers, caterers and local chefs to get involved,” Meacham said. “And while everyone was interested, unfortunately around the Christmas season is a very busy time for them. So local families began to get involved and it has just been amazing. We’ve had nothing but positive responses from everyone involved.”
Meacham said the houses are always beautifully constructed and charming to look at and children love them.
“Families work together on a lot of these houses and it is such quality time together for them,” she said. “And the houses are just lovely. Then we have some that are done on a much grander scale. Last year, we had a medieval castle, where the artistry was simply amazing. It’s just two different experiences.”
Meacham said both experiences are welcomed and very appreciated.
“We want all of the experiences,” she said. “We love the family ones and the creative, collaborative spirit that puts them together and we also love the ones that show a level of artistry and skill that makes them interesting to see.”
Within the Gingerbread House Village, there are also activities to enjoy.
“We have story times scheduled,” Meacham said. “In the past, our guest story readers have been Jill Freeze (Coach Freeze’s wife), Ross Bjork’s wife, Sonya and the Chancellor’s wife, Lydia Jones. In addition this year, Santa Claus will be here on Saturday, Dec. 13.”
The forms to download and fill out are usually online a few months before the actual event and Meacham encourages the community to get involved for next year.
“This year we had the registration up on our website in August,” she said. “There is an online form or one people can download, print and fill out and bring to us.”
Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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