Cary, NC – You should never play with your food at the dinner table, but the streets of Downtown Cary are another matter. This Saturday, creative residents from all over town will be showing off their gingerbread creations, from houses and mansions and even world-famous landmarks.
Competition and Tradition
Saturday, December 2, 2017 will see many holiday celebrations across Downtown Cary, from carolers and horse-drawn carriages at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center to the Ole Time Winter Festival by the Heart of Cary Association on Academy Street and all wrapping up with Cary’s official tree lighting at night at town hall.
Mixed in with all of that is Cary’s seventh annual gingerbread house competition, with various gingerbread creations on display across Downtown Cary. One of those gingerbread artisans is Bill Kaiser, who built a gingerbread replica of the Eiffel Tower with his son Will.
“We had to figure out our inspiration. We wanted to take something we experienced this year and we had traveled to Europe in Barcelona and Paris. So we toyed with the idea of the Eiffel Tower,” Kaiser said. The display is also complete with gingerbread men swimming in fountains because that is what Kaiser and his family saw when visiting in the Summer.
Kaiser and his son had been building gingerbread houses for the past seven years or so but this is the first year they entered any sort of competition. The hobby came out of a tradition from his wife’s side of the family.
“My father-in-law built gingerbread houses with his children and grandchildren and I always thought it was a great addition to other holiday traditions,” Kaiser said. “Since my son was three, we have made them ourselves. Last year, we walked through the competition, looked at each other and said ‘We could do this too.'”
Participating gingerbread houses are judged by structural integrity, creativity and aesthetics, with an official judges’ pick as well as a people’s choice. The winning gingerbread house will be on display at the Cary Arts Center while runners-up will be on display at other sites around Downtown Cary.
Finding the Formula
As his first time entering the competition, Kaiser said building this gingerbread Eiffel Tower was a much different experience.
“After researching templates for the gingerbread tower online, from there, it was experiments with different gingerbread recipes to construct it,” he said.
Kaiser and his son had to figure out how to make “construction-grade” gingerbread that wasn’t too soft and would hold together well. Many of the recipes they found were in pounds so Kaiser’s son did the math to convert it down to measuring cups. Then, even after making the right quality gingerbread, there were additional obstacles as they had to find the right icing and color.
“All baking is a formula so the more chemicals you add for color, the more begins to break down,” he said.
To create the gingerbread Eiffel Towel on display this Saturday, which will be at Pro’s Epicurean Market and Café at 211 E Chatham St., Kaiser and his son started in October and he recommends other people interested in similar competitions also start early.
“It comes down to planning. Make sure you have enough time because things you don’t anticipate become roadblocks,” he said.
All gingerbread houses will be on display in Downtown Cary starting at 9 AM on Saturday, December 2, 2017. Make sure to visit all businesses and Town of Cary buildings to see all gingerbread creations.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Regina Kaiser.