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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

If You Build It: "Gingerbread Lane" Contest

Get the gumdrops! Whip up the icing! If you’ve ever been tempted to try your hand at baking and making a gingerbread house, this could be your year to claim a really "sweet" prize. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge wants you to submit your creation to its Gingerbread Lane competition.

There are two categories in the contest: amateur and professional. Prizes for each include overnight stays with lavish amenities at the hotel.

No one can say for certain when gingerbread was invented, but historians believe the spicy baked cakes and cookies are at least 1,000 years old, with roots that reach back to Europe, Scandinavia and ancient civilizations in the Middle East. Today, entire towns celebrate Christmas with gingerbread house displays.

Whether a chewy cake or a crunchy cookie, what gingerbreads all over the world have in common are spicy ingredients that may include pepper or even mustard, and sweet ingredients such as molasses or other dense sugars.

The largest gingerbread house ever built was more than 45 feet long and 35 feet wide. Roger A. Pelcher, a gingerbread house baker from the age of nine, has held the record for his creation since 2006. (Don’t attempt to top him unless you can come up with more than 14,000 pounds of gingerbread and 1,700 volunteer hours; that’s what Pelcher needed.)

But bigger isn’t always better. For this contest, the maximum size of your display board can’t exceed 3’ x 3’.  Not every entrant can win, but you’ll never know until you try.

Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles!

To enter the contest: The deadline has been extended. Submit your application no later than Fri., Dec. 7. Bring your finished creation to the hotel no later than 4 pm on Wed., Dec. 12; judging will take place at 5 pm.

To view the houses and vote for your favorites: The houses will be on display from Thu., Dec. 13 to Tues., Dec. 25. Cast your vote with a donation of $1 or more. All proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital.

For more information call Elaine Hicks at 704 248-4083 or email ehicks@theballantynehotel.com. Email your completed application to the same email address, or fax it to 704 248-4099.