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Gingerbread Festival always popular activity in Chester

The annual Gingerbread Festival is happening this year in Chester from Nov. 29 to Dec 1. Gingerbread creations, under the theme, A Village Christmas, will be on display at the White Gate Inn & Restaurant, located at 28 Pleasant Street, Chester.
The annual Gingerbread Festival is happening this year in Chester from Nov. 29 to Dec 1. Gingerbread creations, under the theme, A Village Christmas, will be on display at the White Gate Inn & Restaurant, located at 28 Pleasant Street, Chester. - Contributed

The Chester Gingerbread Festival is a celebration of Christmas and all things gingerbread in the Village of Chester.

From Friday evening, Nov. 29, to Sunday afternoon, Dec. 1, a variety of gingerbread creations will be on display at the White Gate Inn & Restaurant, located at 28 Pleasant St., Chester.

The event began in 2010 when Christina Wentzell built replicas of five historic Chester buildings out of gingerbread. These creations were displaced around the village by the Chester Village Merchants group and was a collaborative event with the Chester Art Centre and the Chester Playhouse.

In four years, the gingerbread display has grown to include a gingerbread house competition for all ages, as well as hundreds of creative wooden gingerbread men displayed throughout the village. It is designed as a community event to draw folks to the village in the off-season, says Robin Carling from the Chester Merchant’s Association.

“I think the sheer spectrum of participants is what makes this a great community event and folks really enjoy seeing how creative the pieces can get, some real thinking outside the box,” says Carling.

Entries run the gamut, she says, from school kids to special needs residents to chefs.

A new chef’s category was added last year.
A new chef’s category was added last year.

The gingerbread creations are judged by a panel, with winners in the adult category, an under 16 youth category and new last year was a chef’s category. Carling says there are cash prizes and trophies (which get returned each year) awarded in the adult and youth categories, and a trophy with bragging rights in the chef’s category.

This year’s theme is A Village Christmas, but that’s really just a guideline.

“We welcome anyone’s interpretation,” says Carling.

This is the first year the Gingerbread Festival will incorporate a fundraising component.

Residents get creative with their entries, using a variety of materials to build their gingerbread houses.
Residents get creative with their entries, using a variety of materials to build their gingerbread houses.

“Up until this year, the gingerbread creations have been picked up by the participants at the end of the display, but this year, they’re being auctioned off as a fundraiser and the registrants have been very supportive of the idea,” explains Carling, who adds that the proceeds will go to a local charity.

In addition to the gingerbread competition and display, there is now a Chester Village Christmas festival going on that same weekend with all sorts of activities, including a tree lighting ceremony with carollers and dancers and the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, says Carling. Contests like speed Christmas tree decorating and wreath tossing will be held along with fun activities like cookie decorating and Elfie Selfies. Last year was the first year and it was a great success, she says.

Registration for the gingerbread competition has already closed, but for those wanting to try one at home, Carling says, the secret is all in the icing. It’s basically the glue that holds everything together.

For more information about Chester’s Gingerbread Festival, find them on Facebook under Gingerbread Festival Chester, NS or visit https://www.facebook.com/Gingerbread-Festival-Chester-NS-143116319101004/

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