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By Karen Hendricks, Festival PR/Marketing Director

By now, statistics sadly show that many Americans have made New Year’s Resolutions that have already been broken or abandoned.  So I would like to propose making a new, New Year’s Resolution:  Make the arts a priority in your life in 2012.

I’m inspired to say this by two wonderful and generous women I met recently.  Both women made and contributed amazing, beautiful gingerbread houses to our Gingerbread House Celebration last December.  But perhaps even more stunning… the motivation that inspired them both.

Melissa Thomas, Koney Island Konfections

Melissa Thomas and Sarah Dutton are both mothers who have enjoyed bringing their children to our annual Children’s Arts Fair at the Gettysburg Festival.  They both mentioned how extremely thankful they felt, as their children created unique art projects, danced to musical performances, listened and participated in interactive story-telling and enjoyed countless other hands-on activities at several of our free Children’s Arts Fairs.  That thankfulness drove them both to create gingerbread houses and “give back” to our non-profit organization with gifts of gingerbread.

Sometimes those thankful, magical holiday moments are gone with the turn of the calendar to January.  But the Festival staff remains incredibly touched by these two women and their stories, especially since their spark of inspiration came from their children’s joy.  You see, the mission behind our Children’s Arts Fair is to “inspire a life-long appreciation and love of the arts.”  Apparently we’re reaching parents with this message too!

I encourage you to rediscover a connection to the arts in 2012, whether it’s actually playing music or creating artwork, or whether it’s listening to new types of music, visiting an art exhibit, or even becoming a “foodie”—all of which you can do at the upcoming Gettysburg Festival, by the way!  Finding the time to incorporate the arts into your life will enrich your life in a multitude of ways.  We can attest to that, first-hand, at Gettysburg Festival.

Inside View: Sarah Dutton's gingerbread greenhouse


By Karen Hendricks, Festival PR/Marketing Director

The holiday season, more so than any other time of year, seems to be a time to uphold traditions—family, ethnic and community traditions alike.  Here at Gettysburg Festival, we are embarking on a new holiday event that we hope becomes a Gettysburg tradition as well—A Gingerbread House Celebration.  The inaugural event is set for December 3 and 4 at the Historic Gettysburg Hotel located on Lincoln Square, lead sponsor for the event. 

More than a dozen gingerbread house creators from all across Pennsylvania and Maryland are donating houses for display during the event.  The lucky high bidders will be able to take home these stunning creations for some truly unique holiday displays.  Many of the event’s components spread holiday cheer, while also serving as a fundraiser for our non-profit organization.  Click here to learn more about the event, purchase tickets (only $10), or register for the Children’s Gingerbread Workshop (only $15).  There is even information on how you can sponsor area underprivileged children and allow them to participate in the workshop.

But back to the notion of gingerbread.  The Festival’s media partner for this event, Celebrate Gettysburg magazine, includes a fascinating history of gingerbread in their current issue.  The following is an excerpt from writer Michael Vyskocil’s article:

Do you remember baking gingerbread Christmas cookies as a child? If so, you probably remember how the whole house smelled like the holidays. The unmistakable combination of spices—ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves—gives gingerbread its characteristic flavor. Gingerbread scents the Christmas season, providing a fragrance as alluring as fresh evergreens but every bit edible.

Gingerbread has a long and rich culinary history that dates back to medieval times, according to some culinary sources. During the Middle Ages, this dense, spiced bread may have been shared with jousting knights by their fair maidens. In England, Queen Elizabeth I loved gingerbread so much that her royal family employed a gingerbread baker.

The popularity of gingerbread traveled overseas to America, where it was enjoyed in this country as early as the 17th century. “Of all the Christmas pastries, the gingerbread cookie was the one most loved by early American children,” writes food historian William Woys Weaver in The Christmas Cook.

Let's get to the root of the issue... ginger root

Throughout the centuries, professional bakers, chefs and home cooks alike have sung the praises of gingerbread. Redolent with spices, gingerbread is as sturdy as it is sweet. Who among us can’t recall building at least one gingerbread house or decorating a gingerbread man in our youth?

Christmas provides an opportunity for generations of family members to share traditions, like holiday baking. This activity is a great way to pass down heirloom recipes to the younger generations. 

To read more of Michael’s article, including his recipes for Gingerbread Cake and Cinnamon Whipped Cream, click here.  Michael has cooked, studied and written about food for more than 10 years.  His recipes have been published nationally in Home Cooking and Taste of Home magazines.