Gingerbread House Festival at Wood Library

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Nov. 30, 2012
The Horatio H. Abbe House, circa 1850, of East Hampton, was faithfully brought to life in detail. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
The Horatio H. Abbe House, circa 1850, of East Hampton, was faithfully brought to life in detail. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

Wood Memorial Library & Museum is currently home to nearly 200 gingerbread houses, from fairy cottages to recreations of antique Connecticut homes. It's all part of the second annual Gingerbread House Festival, which is becoming among the biggest in New England.

Bonnie Grover, a volunteer at the library, is the creative director and founder of the festival. “I'm new here from Washington, D.C., and when I came to Connecticut I thought, 'This is Norman Rockwell country, where are the gingerbread houses?'” Grover said. She asked to hold the festival at Wood, and the tradition was born.

Restaurants and top-notch bakeries submit professionally-done houses, and members of the community submit their own creations as well. “No two are ever alike. They're like fingerprints,” said Grover. “You can give someone the same basic structure out of a kit, but there's never the same two alike. It's part of the magic.”

Grover herself is a veteran gingerbread house-maker. “It's really just six cookies glued together,” she said, referring to the four walls and two-piece roof. The “make-or-break” factor of every gingerbread house is the “royal icing,” which is the glue of every house. “If you don't get the consistency right, the house just slides apart,” she said. However, with the right ration of egg whites and powdered sugar, it will harden like cement.

The brown color of gingerbread comes from molasses. Cinnamon, clove, and, of course, ginger, give it the rich, unmistakable aroma. “You're supposed to make them 100-percent edible,” said Grover, though more architecturally complex houses may have wire or toothpicks.

Guests have a chance to take home their favorite gingerbread house through a “teacup auction.” Simply purchase a $3 ticket and put it in the red box by the gingerbread house of your choice for a chance to win. All proceeds benefit the library. Last year's festival was able to raise several thousand dollars for Wood.

The festival continues through Dec. 14. The library is open Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The festival will also be open Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 14, from noon to 6 p.m.  Wood Memorial Library & Museum is located at 783 Main St. in South Windsor. For more information, contact the library at 860-289-1783.

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