By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The Gingerbread House Contest at Aldrich's Market, now in its 20th year, provides a creative outlet for people who want to portray an aspect of Christmas that is dear to their lives or recalls their youth.
As of Thursday afternoon, 11 houses were on display at the market located at 940 Lawrence St., Port Townsend.
The projects are named by their builders and can have any theme — as long as it isn't political.
Charmaine Kennedy, who has been a cashier at the market for seven years, spends a portion of the final Sunday of each year grading each gingerbread house based on structure and imagination, prior to awarding the grand prize.
Included this year is a scale model of the Jefferson County Courthouse and a house with a “Wizard of Oz” theme that has the ruby slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East sticking out from under it.
All entries must arrive at the store before it closes at 9 p.m. Saturday.
The contest's entry fee is one item of food for the Port Townsend Food Bank.
Entries must include the name of the person or group, a phone number, a category and a title.
Once all the entries are in place, the 16 market employees will vote for the best houses, using criteria developed by store owner Milt Fukuda.
Each structure is rated in a variety of categories with a mathematical weight assigned.
The winner is determined when all the points are added up and the high scorer emerges and the votes are tallied, Kennedy said.
An awards ceremony and distribution of prizes is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Entries will be displayed through Jan. 5, and should be picked up by 5 p.m. Jan. 6.
The contest has three categories: children younger than 12, children's group younger than 12, and individual or group 12 and older.
Gingerbread dough must be the basis for each house, but inedible decorations are allowed and encouraged.
For this reason, and the fact that the houses can be on display for a week or more. Most people don't eat the houses after the holidays according to past contestants.
Extra credit will be given to those who use traditional gingerbread instead of gingerbread crackers.
Houses may be of any height, but floors should be limited to 18 inches by 24 inches.
For more information, phone 360-385-0500.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.