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Shipshewana’s gingerbread houses could go national

What at first started five years ago as a simple and fun event for Shipshewana now has the potential for national recognition.

Yoder’s Shopping Center holds an annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest and display Nov. 21 through Jan. 2, with LaGrange County residents submitting their work to be judged. Winners will be announced at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Dec. 10, at Yoder’s Shopping Center, where prizes of $500, $300, and $200 will be awarded.

This year, world-renowned pastry instructor Elizabeth Parvu, one of three judges for the show, recommended that two of the gingerbread houses be entered into national competitions.

 “The work on these two pieces is so neatly and precisely done, these could easily compete on the national level. I have a large international audience that listens to me so I have to be very careful about what I say or whom I recommend,” Parvu stated. “I believe the first place entry especially needs to be seen other places.”

Guidelines for the judging include original design or theme, creative use of materials, level of difficulty, structural integrity (no cracking, no leaning, etc.), and overall appearance.

Non-professional bakers who live in or around LaGrange County create the gingerbread house entries.

Kathy Chester, human resources manager for Yoder Department Store and co-chair of the event, said while previous years have received a large number of entries, this year the number of participants was smaller.

“I would love to see our entire hallway filled with gingerbread houses,” Chester said, referring to Yoder Shopping Center’s 280 ft. hallway.

“The event is tied in with all the monthly Christmas festivities Shipshewana hosts throughout the month of December, and we want this to be a fun, family-oriented project,” Chester added.

Also on Saturday, Yoder’s Shopping Center is participating in the townwide Kid’s Day festivities. Kids can have their faces painted, create Christmas cards for American troops, watch model steam engine trains, and view a life-size display of Santa and his elves.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids can participate in a book signing by local author and illustrator Rebecca Williams and Hilary Burchett, respectively, titled The First Snow of Winter.

From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., Parvu will create gingerbread reindeer and Christmas trees out of sugar paste. Parvu owns Sugarpaste in South Bend, a company that manufactures and ships sugar crystal colors worldwide to cake decorators and pastry chefs.