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Students compete for a sweet cause

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 03:12

Build, build, as fast as you can; it’s time for the gingerbread house contest again.

On Dec. 7, there will be the fifth annual gingerbread house-making contest in the MUB food court from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry costs $15 for each preregistered team and $20 at the door.

The students of Peterson Hall and “The Minis” organize the contest to raise money for On Belay. On Belay is a non-profit organization that provides adventure programs that build community among children who have or have had a family member with cancer.

According to Ruth Abelmann, the chair of the board of On Belay, two students who interned with On Belay five years ago started the contest.

“I told them it would be cool to start a tradition and leave a legacy behind before they graduate,” Abelmann said. “… They started to brainstorm and came up with the gingerbread house contest.”

Abelmann said that the first year only about 15 teams participated. However, since then the event’s continued to grow. Last year 97 teams from UNH and the community took part in the fun-filled contest.

“There are mostly teams of four,” Cassie Godinez, a senior and volunteer for the contest and at On Belay, said. Godinez helps advertise and get supplies for the contest.

“We supply most of the stuff, such as frosting, basic candy like the swirly mints, gumdrops, et cetera,” Godinez said.

In the contest all students, faculty and locals are supplied with a package of frosting and candy. However, participants are allowed to bring their own candy if they wish.

“Some people really go all out for this and bring a lot of their own supplies,” Godinez said.

According to Allie Birchmeier, the Peterson Hall director and one of the sponsors of the event, cardboard platforms are also provided.

In addition to getting supplies for the gingerbread house contest, it is Godinez’s job to ask the community and local businesses to donate prizes for the contest.

“Some of the prizes we give away are really great,” Abelmann said, “such as a gift card to Libby’s.” Other prizes include gift cards to places like Flatbread, Bloom’n Cow Ice Cream in Newmarket, outdoor adventure parks in the area and many more.

According to Birchmeier, there are over 30 different prizes. The prizes vary in the ages they are geared towards. 

Trudy Brown is the ‘Expert Gingerbread House Judge.’ She evaluates every house to determine the winners.  

“Basically I walk around and people ask me questions and I give suggestions,” Brown said, “such as how to make the structure sturdier or where to add more frosting.”

Brown used to be the only judge. However, because of the increasing popularity of the contest, for the first time this year there will be two judges. Brown will help judge the older contestants, while the other judges will focus on the younger groups.

“It’s a very fun event,” Brown said. “Some students even come in with blueprints.”

The gingerbread house contest is a fun way to be creative. Abelmann claimed that in the past she’s seen students create Stoke Hall, ski lodges, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and even Fenway Park.

“As they finish they hold up a paddle, signaling that they are ready for me to judge,” Brown said. “Some people take an hour, others enjoy and stay until the end.”

If nothing else, the contest is a great way to relieve stress during the hectic time that is finals week.

“Many UNH students think it’s great,” Brown said. “It’s a few hours of doing nothing before studying.”

This year Birchmeier claims she expects an even bigger turn out than last year – between 400 and 500 participants.


“It’s just a fun, fun day,” Brown said. “Everyone is in the spirit and it’s a great event and great fundraiser.”

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