All ages use imagination for Kenai gingerbread house contest

Some of the sweetest ideas featured at the annual gingerbread house contest hosted by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce prove that age is not a barrier to creativity.

The seventh annual gingerbread house contest challenged entrants of all ages to come up with the most decorative and impressive designs using the classic ingredients of the holiday season, along with a few modern twists.

Over a dozen gingerbread houses entered by central peninsula residents have filled the main room at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for the past month, and this weekend was the last chance for the creations to be viewed by the public.

The age group winners all brought innovative ideas to the table that impressed the judges, from 8-year-old winner Noah Cole to 28-year-old winner Alicia Rodarte.

The overall category was won by Heidi Sorrell.

Cole claimed the 0-9 age group division, and said with help from his mother Amber, he constructed a train station with liquorice as the key ingredient for the tracks.

“I put liquorice for the train tracks, and on the house, I put shingle cookies on,” he said. “That’s all I remember.”

Amber Cole said she thought the contest would be perfect for her son, and Noah took it from there. Noah said he got the ideas for designing his house from a TV show, and he worked on it all in one afternoon.

“I did it after school,” he said. “It took a while for the frosting to dry right.”

The next age category, the 10-15 bracket, rewarded Finn Williams for his creative design. Williams, 11, warned when asked what he used that it’s a baker’s secret.

Williams did divulge that much of his work was done with custom designs using modern technology.

“We started with a log cabin idea, then it changed to more of a wilderness lodge,” Williams wrote in an email. “I made some of the custom cookie cutouts, like the moose mount and bear tracks by making cookie cutters and stamps on my 3D printer. I made the windows and pond from melted candy. And we strung some lights on the inside with hot glue.”

Williams added that he got the idea for a wilderness lodge from several books, his imagination and the internet. He also never believed he could win the contest having never entered one before.

In the 16-plus age group, Kenai’s Alicia Rodarte, 28, took home the winning honors. Rodarte said this year was her first time entering a gingerbread house contest, but she has plenty of experience working with baked goods.

“I’ve been making cakes for a while,” she said. “I’ve been doing it since I was fresh out of high school, doing it for like 10 years. It’s a good little hobby.”

Rodarte added that the decoration wasn’t too much different from designing a cake, but she still took to websites like Pinterest for ideas. Once she found an idea that caught her attention, Rodarte said she set to work bringing it to life, with a little help from her family.

“I couldn’t find a template for it, so I made my own,” she said. “I grew up with my dad in the construction business.”

Rodarte said she primarily used pretzels, icing and powdered sugar, as well as ice cream cones to create trees.

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read