By NewsLine Staff

Jacksonville Historical Society’s Gingerbread House Extravaganza opens for a three-week run November 30, showcasing dozens of gingerbread houses and confection creations made by area professionals and amateurs. A local holiday tradition, the Gingerbread Extravaganza was called one of the “five best holiday events in the South” last year by Southern Living magazine.

In its 14th year, the Gingerbread Extravaganza is expected to be the biggest in the show’s history.

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“We’re anticipating more than 60 gingerbread houses or creations,” said show chair, Robert Hennigar.

The gingerbread houses come in all shapes, sizes and themes and are constructed by friends, families, co-workers, chefs and individuals ages six to 96. While many entries include traditional gingerbread houses and villages, other creations focus on storybook, movie, fantasy and history themes. Icing, fondant and candies are typically used, and occasionally builders use a main ingredient other than gingerbread.

Mandarin groups have stepped up in full force this year to support the Extravaganza. Members of the Mandarin Garden Club are recreating its club and grounds in gingerbread and confection. Submitting a Chanukah themed entry is a team from River Garden and River City Homebirth is building a religious themed entry. The Federation of Families of Northeast Florida, along with Youth M.O.V.E. will participate.

Mandarin families and friends involved in the charity event include Connie, Sammi and Timothy Mack. Mandarin mother and daughter Karen and Kate Truslow joined with friends Bridget Tice and Stephanie Fields to build a Winnie the Pooh gingerbread exhibit that features the holidays. Mandarin resident, Mary Sheldon, who moved to Mandarin a year ago from Buffalo, is working with her daughter, longtime Mandarin resident Sharon Povlak, to build a castle. Kari Bell and her family are participating.

A Festival of Trees, created by the Junior League of Jacksonville Sustainers is included in the Gingerbread Extravaganza. A dozen themed trees showcase local history and the holidays.

“The trees are highly creative and an important part of the event,” said Mandarin resident and executive director of the Jacksonville Historical Society, Emily Lisska.

The Gingerbread House Extravaganza runs Nov. 30 – Dec. 23, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily except Sundays, at Jacksonville Historical Society’s Old St. Andrews, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., across from the Veterans Memorial Arena. It opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.

A charity event, a donation of $5 for adults and $3 for children older than three is suggested. The Jacksonville Historical Society’s Merrill Museum House, highlighting 1903 Jacksonville life, is open 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. during the Extravaganza and is located on adjoining property. Parking for both events is free.

“It’s a perfect event for all ages,” said Lisska. “It’s also the most creative art show in town.”

Email or call (904) 665-0064 for more information.


Photo courtesy Emily Lisska

The Gingerbread House Extravaganza, Nov. 30 – Dec. 23 at the Jacksonville Historical Society’s Old St. Andrew’s, features a wide variety of confection creations, especially classic gingerbread houses.  


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