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GingerBread Jubilee adds social distance, drops the admission fee

Transforming the James Collier GingerBread Jubilee into a social distancing compliant and sugary spectacle will require some tweaks to a beloved recipe.

For its 18th year, the Jubilee’s community tour will move to a new location in downtown Medford with expanded hours next month and admission down to the low, low price of free, according to Aspen Droesch, development director for the Craterian Performances Company.

Droesch said that during a “normal” year, the GingerBread Jubilee would be their largest fundraiser of the year, bringing in around a quarter of a million dollars.

“We’re certainly not expecting that this year,” Droesch said, adding that instead they’re focused on giving the community a “joyful and festive” event at no cost.

She described the free admission as an effort to add a little sweetness to a somber year.

“Just given everything with COVID and the fires and everything that people are dealing with, we wanted everyone to be able to come out and enjoy a holiday tradition,” Droesch said, adding that her team is “working really hard to pivot and make it safe.”

This year’s community tour, running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 20-22, will feature a covered outdoor, tour of festive holiday window displays at the Collier Creative Center, 50 N. Fir St. in Medford.

Typically the building is used for the Craterian’s Teen Musical Theater of Oregon programs, but the building — formerly a Scan Design furniture store — “has these gorgeous, huge windows,” according to Droesch, which organizers will use to showcase the gingerbread creations in different themes.

Organizers will meter people one by one in the outdoor tour to ensure physical distancing.

“It’ll be chilly, but fully covered,” Droesch said. “I think it’ll look especially festive at night.”

For those unwilling or unable to brave the crowds to enjoy the sights of locally made gingerbread creations, there will also be an online component to the tour.

Normally the gingerbread creations are auctioned off at a catered gala, but this year’s auction will be online and open to everyone instead of just a couple hundred gala ticketholders.

Culinary architects interested in participating the baking contest have until Nov. 1 to apply. Participants must use all edible materials, but the event is open to all ages and skill levels.

“They can be anything,” Droesch said. “They don’t have to be houses.”

Roughly $3,000 worth of cash prizes are awarded in multiple categories that include student, adult and group. For entry and event details, see craterian.org or facebook.com/GingerBreadJubilee.

Droesch said the Craterian has faced its own setbacks in that they were among the first to close and anticipate being among the last to reopen. Their Teen Musical Theater of Oregon program had to completely cancel their spring production on dress rehearsal.

TMTO is now gearing up to reopen with a holiday performance. With social distancing, the Craterian’s 80 seats are a fraction of what they used to be, and Droesch said arriving at the theater is a little different from what it once was because they can’t allow lingering in the lobby.

“Once you get in the seat ... you really don’t feel like you’re missing anything,” Droesch said. “It’s really incredible to see a live performance again.”

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

The James Collier GingerBread Jubilee will include free admission for its 18th year, organizers said, bringing a little sweetness to a somber year. Mail Tribune file photo.