Gingerbread Village returns

Sawridge’s ready for annual holiday event

By CAROL CHRISTIAN, Connect Weekly

The Gingerbread Village opens on November 27 at 6 p.m. with a ribbon cutting event. SUPPLIED PHOTO

The Gingerbread Village opens on November 27 at 6 p.m. with a ribbon cutting event. SUPPLIED PHOTO

To bring all things gingerbread to the holidays, the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre plans to get the community into a savoury festive spirit with its second annual Gingerbread Village.

It’s the creative culinary skills of local businesses and social profits – or any resident who wants to enter –who will populate the village with ginger masterpieces.

Participants choose their theme with only one stipulation: “The main component has to be gingerbread,” explains Sawridge’s Marketing Manager Mindy Thomas.

“It’s a display, not a gingerbread house,” she added. “They can make whatever they want. Last year, Keyano Theatre made Keyano Theatre. It was a phenomenal piece. Allan Roberts did such an amazing job. I’m really looking forward to see what he comes up with this year.”

Also, NAABA (Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association), which claimed the coveted People’s Choice Award last year, will be back to defend their title.

This year’s goal is to have 44 gingerbread displays. Visitors can cast their ballots for a dollar to vote for the Most Original (1st, 2nd & 3rd), Most Artistic (1st, 2nd & 3rd) and People’s Choice.

Thomas points out participants can build their displays at home or at the office as a team building exercise, then drop if off at the Sawridge by Thursday, November 26. A ribbon cutting event to mark the grand opening of the Village is being held at 6 p.m. on the following day (Friday, November 27).

“This year, we’re actually going to up it a little bit,” said Thomas. “We’re going to have two streets in our Gingerbread Village. One is called Gingerbread Boulevard and the other one is Candy Cane Lane.”

Gingerbread Boulevard is where the Village is located, which will also showcase the Sawridge’s gingerbread display. What exactly it will be is kept secret, teased Thomas. Though, she hinted that it will be very different than what they did last year.

During the opening celebrations, the Village will also feature carollers, as well as offer free hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies, like the last event. Candy Cane Lane will feature an area where youngsters – or even adults – can write their letters to Santa. There will also be a station where visitors can decorate their gingerbread cookies.

“We’re going to have gingerbread lattes for sale; a nice Christmas ale for sale and rum and eggnog, so we’re really going all out for our Ginberbread Christmas,” said Mindy Thomas.

“We’re going to have gingerbread lattes for sale; a nice Christmas ale for sale and rum and eggnog, so we’re really going all out for our Ginberbread Christmas.”

The display will be open to the community for viewing until January 3 with a “By Donation” entry fee.
All proceeds raised from the Gingerbread Village are going to the Centre of Hope.

“Every single dollar collected, whether through the displays people built for their registration to the money collected by donation … all goes to Centre of Hope,” said Thomas. “Last year, we raised over $4,000 for the Centre of Hope, and this year we hope to raise even more.”

Thomas explains the purpose of the Gingerbread Village is simply to bring some added festive fun to Fort McMurray.
She recalls that after the holidays in 2014, she and her boss, Steven Watters, Sawridge GM, were talking about how there really wasn’t many activities during the week of Christmas.

He’d had family visiting from out-of-town and found there wasn’t much being offered in festive fun during the week, while Thomas had just returned from Vancouver, which included a much-enjoyed visit to Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt.

“I thought wouldn’t a gingerbread village be fun for us and we can get the community involved and raise money for a local non-profit? So it’s bringing in a new event as something to do during the Christmas holidays for people staying in town.”

For those wishing to enter a display, participants can buy a maximum of three spots for a $100 non-refundable deposit, per spot. Each spot measures 18 inches by 18 inches with a weight maximum of 15 pounds, per spot.
For more information, call Thomas at 780-799-7401 or email her: marketingfm@sawridge.com

– Connect Weekly –