An elaborate gingerbread log cabin with Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal roofing tiles, a confectionery replica of a battlefield church and candy and a colored icing “Mario Kart” raceway were just some of the creative efforts on display Saturday at the fourth annual Gingerbread Village Festival in the Winchester Exchange in Downtown Westminster.

“It’s really exciting to see the creativity people bring forward and the crazy ideas and things people come up with with gingerbread and candy,” said Matt Peregoy, director of marketing and outreach for Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., which organizes the festival. “It’s a fun way for folks in the community to help support HSP by building gingerbread houses.”


From 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then Friday and Saturday — the festival is closed Sunday and on Thanksgiving Day — the public can purchase votes to allocate among their favorite gingerbread displays.

“All the money raised with this event helps HSP in our programs that help end poverty and homelessness in Carroll County,” he said. “So if you come down and really want one to win, you can be a part of helping them win.”

Jill Tabak, of Finksburg, was not aware of the festival, but saw a sign for it Saturday and decided to stop in.

“It’s awesome. The Gingerbread houses look great and it’s great to raise money for the community,” she said. “I am going to go get some money and make some donations.”

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The festival has its genesis with the Westminster Church of the Brethren, according to member Nancy McCrickard.

“We were volunteers at the Westminster cold weather shelter and we wanted to think of ways we could help increase the awareness of homelessness here in Carroll County,” she said. “We came up with the idea of doing the gingerbread village festival and the thought behind it is that houses come in all shapes and size, but not everybody has one.”

The church’s entry in the festival is a gingerbread replica of the Dunker Church, which according to McCrickard was a forerunner of the contemporary Church of the Brethren and was standing on the battlefield of Antietam during the Civil War.

“The reason we chose the Dunker Church is because it is an early precursor of the Church of the Brethren, and it is also a symbol of peace and hope. That’s what we want to convey about the goodness in humankind and that we as the church can be a symbol of hope in our community.”

The church also contributed a wooden play structure shaped like a truck that people can enter a raffle to win separate from the voting at the festival, according to McCrickard. The truck is currently at the Westminster Downtown Farmers Market lot on Md. 27.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Sarah Williams, of Westminster, who had brought her 8-year-old son Tyler, and 3-year-old daughter Emma to the festival on Saturday. “It’s definitely something to be aware of, especially this cold time of year. I think this is a very neat idea because it brings out everyone’s creative side.”

Emma’s favorite gingerbread creation?

“The Mario one.”