Colleen Smith/staff photo
The inside of Bonnie Mahony's house.

Islanders create show-stopping gingerbread houses for first annual contest

What a time to be a baker on Orcas Island.

Children and adults entered homemade, edible gingerbread houses into the first annual contest sponsored by the Funhouse Commons. The work ranged from innovative to quaint and all represented a great deal of time and effort. There were 50 entries.

“It was great to see the community excitement around this event,” said Funhouse Development Director Nicole Spinogatti, who coordinated the contest. “Everyone did an amazing job. The creativity and talent in our little community blew me away! The Funhouse is so grateful for the anonymous donor that made this event possible.”

The competition, which was co-sponsored by Island Market and Orcas Center, had four categories: littles (age 6 and under); kids (ages 7-11); teens (age 12-16); adults (ages 17-99+). Each age group was given three awards: “Best in Show,” “Creativity,” and “Technical,” for a total of 12 cash prizes, which ranged from $25 to $500, all privately donated. The judges ranged from culinary experts to professional designers. All of the winners are currently on display at Island Market from now until Dec. 23 along with photos of all participants’ entries.

For ages 16 and under, only the individual entrant was allowed to design and make their creation, though help with baking and materials prep was permitted. For the adult category, the entry could be the work of either one person or a group of people. The winners are as follows.

Adults — Best in Show: Bonnie Mahony; Technical: Susie Frank; Creativity: Jamie Donatuto — Team GingaNinjas. Teens — Best in Show: Sofia Mahony-Jauregui; Technical: Angelo Vaccarella; Creativity: Ava Ashcraft. Kids — Best in Show: Maeve Sprenger; Technical: Mia Ashcraft; Creativity: Eolande Summers. Littles — Best in Show: Hank Gable, Technical: Owen Neal and Creativity: Odin Summers.

“Given that people only had nine days from the very first notification of this contest to its deadline, it was beyond amazing to see how fun, beautiful, creative and labor-intensive so many of the entries are, from the adults right down to the pre-school kids,” said Funhouse Volunteer Jim Bredouw. “As usual, the level of hidden talent, community spirit and dedication on our little island continues to inspire and amaze. I think people will be genuinely shocked at the professionalism of some of these creations, particularly sweet to see during this COVID lockdown. The Funhouse also did an amazing job of coordinating all of this in a hurry — Nicole in particular — and I have a feeling this has the potential to become a beloved annual event.”

There were matching donations made to Orcas non-profits, designated by each of the four Best in Show winners. Mahony chose Orcas Montessori Public School; Mahony-Jauregui and Sprenger both picked the Orcas Animal Shelter; and Gable picked The Funhouse Commons.

Bredouw thanked Spinogatti, Funhouse executive director Emilie Gincig, Orcas Market Manager Jacob Linnes, Orcas Center executive director Dimitri Stankevich, Carol Sutton at Rainbow Services and volunteers Marshall Reiss, Miel Bredouw and Minnie Bredouw and Mary Jane Elgin for helping with the festivities.

Spinogatti said that everyone who came to drop off their houses said that they had “so much fun” constructing and decorating.

“For some, it was the first time they had ever done a gingerbread house and now they can’t wait until next year. Many of them already had ideas for next year’s event,” she said.


Kids' technical award winner Mia Ashcraft.

Colleen Smith/staff photo
Teen technical winner Sofia Mahony-Jauregui.