The 2011 Gingerbread Festival

I got the call at 5 a.m. yesterday: “Can you be a judge at our gingerbread contest?” A judge at Easter Seals Hawaii’s Gingerbread Festival had dropped out, and they needed someone to take their place. What is this Gingerbread Festival?

Turns out, it was Easter Seals’ 12th annual fundraising event, which is a perfect way to kick off the holidays with friends and family. Every year, people can buy a spot at the festival, and are given all the edible supplies they need for making their own gingerbread house — walls, roof, frosting, cookies, and candy — and get a spot to make it. You can sign up for a morning or afternoon spot, and design your home to your heart’s content. They even give you extra supplies if you like to load up the decor. Then, you can take your house home to display … or eat.

Here are just a few of the 1,200 families that helped turn the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall into a Christmas candyland yesterday, and their sweet creations.

Easter Seals Hawaii Gingerbread Festival

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For $39, every group gets all the edible materials they need to construct their own gingerbread house. When they’re done, they can wrap the house in plastic and take it home.

But wait, there’s more! I was there to judge two gingerbread house (more like properties) contests — one was a competition between the corporate sponsors, and one was a professional competition between the Hilton and Starwood chefs. Take a look at their elaborate gingerbread landmarks:

Gingerbread Festival Competition

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The Prudential Foundation entered an Elvis-themed home in — where else? — the Diamond Head area. Realtors love Diamond Head!

If you want to participate next year, sign up early, as the spots do sell out. Want to know more? Here are Mason Williams and Shawnette Osborne of Easter Seals Hawaii to tell you about this fun event for people of all ages.