Awed by a decade of local gingerbread artistry, a new generation of bakers hopes to mount competition as stiff as royal icing.
First-time winners at the 2012 GingerBread Jubilee, Josiah Arthur and Joyelle Bull plotted this year's entry almost immediately after taking home $500 for last year's "The Hobbit." Flushed with success, they turned down an offer of help from Josiah's brother, 17-year-old Reid, who came up with his own contribution to this year's benefit for Craterian Performances.
What: GingerBread Jubilee, an annual exhibit benefitting Craterian Performances; admission is $3 per person
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday, Nov. 23-25
Where: Collier Center for the Performing Arts, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford
For more information: Call 541-779-3000 or see www.craterian.org/support-us/gingerbread-jubilee/
"Once you start, you're always thinking of different ones you can do," says Josiah, 15.
The brothers are pitting their student talents against competitors with numerous Jubilee wins to their credit. Judges today will rank 45 entirely edible sculptures at downtown Medford's Collier Center for the Performing Arts. The pieces will go up for auction at a sold-out gala Friday evening.
"It's such a three-dimensional and a multisensory experience," says Maureen Esser, development and communications manager for the Craterian. A regional draw, says Esser, the cookie creations go far beyond "four graham crackers" into the realm of "brand-new inventory for the planet."
After skipping the Jubilee for a couple of years, Central Point's Corcoran family — perennial recipients of the People's Choice vote — have reentered the field, says Esser. Former Jubilee sponsor and frequent winner Rebecca Hill is again throwing her whisk into the mix, says Esser. For its 11th year, the Jubilee has no official theme but has seen increased participation, she adds.
"It seemed like that just opened the floodgate on creativity."
Popular films inspire the Arthurs and their baking partners. "The Avengers" cast of characters assume fondant form at Josiah's hands while the "Wreck-It Ralph" arcade console is the centerpiece of Reid's entry with Rebecca Domis, 17, and Joyelle's 15-year-old sister, Jianna.
"There's gonna be lots of details," says Reid. "There'll be the joysticks and the buttons. We're trying to be as accurate as possible.
"It'll be cool if it doesn't topple over."
To bake sheets of gingerbread more than 2 feet long, the home-schooled threesome commandeered their church's gas ovens, the only ones they knew of large enough for the task. Each has agreed to invest $100 for a shot at splitting the Jubilee's $1,000 grand prize.
"Being home-schooled, you get to do all kinds of stuff all the time," says Reid. "It fits into the creative arts."
Time management — as any Jubilee entrant knows — is another critical component. Josiah and Joyelle recall pulling an all-nighter last year and delivering "The Hobbit" with wet frosting.
Professing love for J.R.R Tolkien's Middle Earth, the pair say they considered submitting a Hobbit sequel but decided against typecasting themselves. And while Josiah advocated an homage to old claymation movies, Joyelle vetoed that idea.
Both agreed they needed passion for a project that requires so much work — and will be wagered against local bakers' best.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.