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An update on the Ford Center’s Gingerbread Village

Ellie Darcey
The Oxford Eagle

It’s that time of year again when the Ford Center invites the people of Oxford to create unique gingerbread houses put on display. All are invited to view these unique edible houses through Dec. 19.

The tradition behind the Gingerbread Village began in 2010 with Norm Easterbrook. He came up with the idea through many conversations and eventually turned the idea into a reality.

IMG_6642The first village in 2010 contained only four gingerbread houses. Since then, the village has grown significantly, not only in quantity, but in individual size and creativity.

The Ford Center welcomes anyone to build a gingerbread house, in fact they encourage all to participate.

Kate Meacham, marketing director for the Ford Center, said, “We put out a list every year for people who want or are interested in making one. We also put out calls through email and social media, generally broadcasting that anyone can build a house if they’d like.” IMG_6643

Upon entering the Gingerbread Village, you will not see one gingerbread house that looks like another. Each house is very unique in its own way.

From different sizes, shapes, and candy, each house stands out on its own. The edible villages, buildings, and homes vary in size. There are smaller scaled villages that one pictures when thinking of a gingerbread house and others so large it’s hard to believe they are still edible.

Though it does not seem like it, especially when looking at the larger IMG_6645scaled houses, the Ford Center has placed some regulations each builder
must follow. The base of each can be no larger than 2.5 X 2.5 feet.

If you wish to create a village or house that is longer than the requirements, organizers ask you to inform them so they can make more room and make sure it is no wider than 2.5 feet.

“There are two reasons for (this) – 2.5 feet will go through any standard door of a house. People in the past have made them and have not been able to get them out of the house… The second reason is when we are planning out the spacing, thisIMG_6646 has only just started to be a problem.

“As we get more and more houses, we have less and less space, so if someone wants to build one that is wider or bigger, we need to know how many spaces they are going to to take, so when we are planning, we know when we will run out of space.”

Aside from size, they request that you not build an average gingerbread house that you can create from a store bought kit. The Ford Center wants you to channel your creativity. The houses also do not have to be completely edible unless you choose for them to be that way.

“When you put restrictions that it has to be 100 percent edible, you are cutting out people who are interested, but don’t necessarily have the skills,” she said.

IMG_6647Though these houses have very elaborate designs. Currently, there is no competition taking place.

The original idea when Easterbrook started the village was people would compete against one another, but with the original four houses, that did not happen.

There have been many discussions about making the Gingerbread Village a competition in the future, but there has been no official decision regarding a competition quite yet.

“We have mostly decided not to because it has become such a fun thing forIMG_6644 families to do or classes at schools,” Meachum said. “There may be a point where we do have so many houses, or
so many people interested that we have a couple of divisions, but for right now, there is not contest,” Meachum said.

IMG_6648A lesser known fact about the village is the canned food donation they request you make with your visit. Since the Ford Center does not charge visitors for entering the Gingerbread Village, they wanted to give back to the community.

Originally the canned goods went to the Oxford Pantry, but when the Ole Miss Food Bank opened on campus, they began dividing the donations between the two pantries.

The Ford Center hopes the Gingerbread Village will continue for years to come. Currently, you can visit the village any day of the week. It opens at 1 a.m. every afternoon and closes at 4 p.m., except Tuesdays and Thursdays when the village remains open till 7 p.m.

Storytime events will take place Dec. 17 and 18.

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