The Oxford Eagle
To get ready for the holidays, the city of Oxford hangs up lights, decorates with wreathes and creates gingerbread houses.
Ole Miss opened its sixth annual Gingerbread Village the first week of December. The village displays different gingerbread houses from local residents and businesses. When this tradition first began, there were only four houses in the exhibit. This year, more than 25 houses were entered into the display.
The university’s catering department created a replica of Faulkner’s Rowan Oak home on a 4X5 foot board. Ole Miss Catering Coordinator Liz Rousseau helped design the project.
“Even though it’s not on campus, it’s part of the university,” said Rousseau. “It’s part of Oxford. That was a big part of the planning process.”
After creating the initial design, the catering team started assembling the house. They used graham crackers and Rice Krispies treats to make the house structurally stable. Ole Miss Catering Manager Angela Gragson said this was her first time working on a gingerbread house.
“The weather was a factor,” said Gragson. “The roof was graham crackers, but if it was wet outside, they would warp. It was a learning process.”
Constructing the house took the team about two days, but the decorating took about two weeks. Rousseau spent a lot of time purchasing candy from Holli’s Sweet Tooth and Dollar Tree trying to create the perfect look.
“It was fun, but you had to make sure you found the right candy,” said Rousseau. “I think we tried a few other things out that we didn’t decide to use.”
W. Brent Swain from Sustainable Architecture created a passive solar gingerbread house.
“It takes inspiration from a number of different designs,” said Swain. “It allows light to come into the south side as the sun drops lower in the wintertime to heat the house.”
Swain typically makes 3-D form models of his blueprints. For this display, he used gingerbread to construct the model and green Fruit Roll-ups to represent solar panels.
“I had a template, but it took a few hours,” said Swain. “The hard part was not knowing how to glue gingerbread.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a gingerbread house with green shutters and frosted trees. A team of about five worked on creating the display.
Carrie Roberts helped work on the house. It was her first time participating in the Gingerbread Village.
“Two weeks ago, we started making the gingerbread itself, and cutting it out, and making sure it was sturdy and strong enough,” said Roberts. “Then we put it together, and once we did that, we started frosting it. We added layer after layer.”
The roof of the house is made out of Rice Krispies treats, and the stain-glassed windows are made out of melted sugar and cream of tartar. Both the roof and windows helped secure the house from falling.
“The house wasn’t strong enough without the windows,” said Roberts. “So, we melted sugar, made sugar glass and poured them in.”
Memory Makers patients also created a house for the event. The nonprofit is a respite day service for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Patients worked with children to create the little village of houses with the sign, “To grandmother’s house we go!”
Amy Barton works at Memory Makers, and her daughters helped with the project.
“They and the kids glued the houses together and put everything on,” said Barton. “They helped make everything.”
The Memory Makers team spent two weeks creating their display.
The Gingerbread Village is free and open to the public. However, canned goods and non-perishable items are encouraged. All donations from this event will go to the Oxford Pantry and Ole Miss Food Bank.
The exhibit is open until Dec. 19.
To create your own gingerbread house, click here for a recipe.