Festival of Gingerbread

Scenes from Fort Wayne often serve as inspiration for the Festival of Gingerbread, presented each holiday season at The History Center.

“As long as we have regional artists, we are going to hold the Festival of Gingerbread,” says Todd Maxwell Pelfrey.

Pelfrey is the executive director of the Fort Wayne History Center, which hosts the festival. However, there will be some changes for this 35th year of the Festival of Gingerbread. The festival runs Nov. 17-Dec. 13 at the History Center, 302 E. Berry St., Fort Wayne. Regular admission rates apply.

“Gingerbread creations are going to be staggered around the whole museum,” Pelfrey explained. “We are going to be taking advantage of the old City Hall’s wide hallways.” The cookie-based art will be in both the first-floor and second-floor hallways, as well as in the traditional Shields Room, where the festival has been staged for many years.

Artists create miniatures of scenes Fort Wayne’s present or past, but also from literature and popular culture. Artist registration is due Nov. 6, and creations are to be delivered Nov. 19-20. To enter gingerbread, visit fwhistorycenter.org and follow the links.

From 2-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, the festival will open only to individuals, not school or social groups. This is to allow people with concerns about being in crowds to feel comfortable attending.

Weekend events, like sugar cookie decorating, will happen with limited participation. Ingredients for crafts will be packaged in kits, which each child can then use right there at the History Center, or take home to build later. It will take a little extra work to prepackage the building materials but, Pelfrey affirmed, “We’re willing to do it.”

“When there are large numbers of people in the building … we’ll have signage to alert patrons outside,” he explained.

On busy days, Pelfrey hopes patrons will be able to buy tickets online in advance, without having to stand in crowds. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to stagger the (volume) of visitors,” Pelfrey said.

During festival time, tickets and cookies may still be bought in-person. The gingerbread cookies sold at the festival will be packaged, and Pelfrey hinted that the History Center might be able to arrange pay-in-advance and cookie-to-car delivery. (The cookies still come from the same, secret, bakery as they have in years past.)

For gingerbread artists, guidelines will be very similar to those of years before. But this year, the History Center asks artists to make very sure their creations follow the size guidelines. The awards ceremony, which draws hundreds of onlookers, will probably be held on Zoom. Electronic tours of the gingerbread creations will be given for a small fee for those who want to see everything without coming to the History Center.

“We could really use some cheer right now,” said Pelfrey. “We’re really looking forward to presenting the Festival of Gingerbread.”

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