Lawrence will experience a housing boom in the next couple of weeks.
As part of the 10th annual Eldridge Hotel Gingerbread Festival and Auction, more than 120 houses constructed with rolling pins, spatulas, knives, icing glue and a lot of sugar are expected to be completed by early December.
Viewing for the gingerbread houses is Dec. 5-9 in the Crystal Room at Eldridge. The judging and auction begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 9. All proceeds from the festival will benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County.
The festival was established in 1994 to turn downtown Lawrence into a festive haven and attract more business in the area, said Rob Phillips, general manager of Eldridge Hotel.
The festival raises more than $16,000 annually for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said Sarah Randolph, development director at Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The contest has one main rule: All entries must be 100 percent edible, except for the base.
"They generally don't eat them," Randolph said. "Some of these houses are so elaborate that buyers keep them and display them in their houses, year after year."
Some of the houses featured intricate designs. Castles and European houses were common at the festival, Randolph said.
Participants for the most part are between the ages of 5 to 10, Randolph said, but adults also take part, including professionals like architects who are always willing to show their skills.
Usually the top 20 houses are auctioned off to the public. Randolph said the best houses usually sold for $125 to $1,000.
"The bidding can get serious for the houses that are clearly the favorite," Randolph said.
Gingerbread houses must be delivered between 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 4 to the Eldridge Hotel.
Viewing times are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 5; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 6; noon-8 p.m. Dec. 7; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 8; noon-6 p.m. Dec. 9.
- First, $300
- Second, night for two at the Eldridge and dinner at Shalor's.
- Third, dinner for four at Shalor's.
Also, the three winners in the children's graham cracker house division will receive $50 savings bonds.