The Gingerbread Project first started seven years ago as a way to celebrate the holidays and raise money for the Pemberton Food Bank.
That year, organizers donated over $1,500 at the end of the event. Fast forward to 2016. “Last year we made $13,000,” said David Mackenzie, general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge, which hosts the event. “We’ve certainly come a long way in a short time.”
(That $13,000 was in addition to 17 hampers full of non-perishable food.)
The event has also become an annual holiday tradition for locals. Individuals, groups and businesses get together to make a gingerbread creation — which have ranged from a traditional house to versions of One Mile Lake, a local store or landmark along with other creative inventions — and visitors bid on them while donating to the food bank and voting on their favourite treat. There’s also a prize for people’s choice — a pair of Canucks tickets and a one-night stay in Vancouver.
“There’s a little incentive there,” Mackenzie said.
While submissions are down slightly this year, “creativity is certainly up,” he added.
“We have a gingerbread outhouse, we have a gingerbread Christmas wreath, a campsite, a recreation of Mount Currie, which is Pemberton’s most significant mountain, of course. There are some unique creations.”
It’s also been fun to see the creative, edible embellishments people have used over the years, he added.
“This year we saw cinnamon sticks for a log cabin and Shreddies as shingles for the roof. It’s neat to see edible materials people get creative with,” he said.
This year one submission included an inedible bonus: Lego pieces. “Obviously that one would be worth bidding on,” Mackenzie said. “You get Lego with it!”
Bidding for the gingerbread creations is open until the end of the day on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. Winners will be contacted shortly after so they can bring home the treat in time for Christmas.
“When we first thought about doing the project, we didn’t know what to expect,” Mackenzie said. “Now it’s become a bit of a staple in the community. Our partners at Scotiabank have stepped up to the plate to offer a matching contribution.”
Last Saturday (Dec. 16), the lodge also hosted a family day in which the big guy in red made a stop in Pemberton to meet its youngest residents. “We tell people of course we have the real Santa,” Mackenzie said. “It’s quite believable if you see him. I think that’s a big draw for a lot of people. Kids are lined up waiting for Santa to arrive on Saturday. When they see him and the kids see the gingerbread projects, it’s pretty special to see their faces light up when they see the display.”
Check out The Gingerbread Project at the Pemberton Valley Lodge until Dec. 20 at 5 p.m.