Fourteenth Annual Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays.

Entertainment Fixture Topeka Performing Arts Center helps plan events throughout the year that bring high profile performers like comedian Lewis Black to the community. Black, a well known stand up comedian, will perform September 23 at TPAC.

Niel Thompson / Washburn Review

This year will mark the 14th year the Topeka Performing Arts Center, TPAC, will be doing its annual fundraiser, Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays. From Nov. 18-20, participants will be able to see unique gingerbread houses made by local Topeka organizations and businesses.

“The event is divided into three stages,” said Erin Aldridge ,TPAC’s Marketing Manager. Aldridge has been personally involved in the fundraiser since she came to TPAC in the fall of 2007. “The first station is the Gingerbread Viewing Area, the second station is Graham Cracker Junction where people build mini houses and the third station is Sweet Tooth Lane and the Holiday Boutique.”

There will also be additional entertainment provided by Santa Clause and the Hayden Bell Choir.

The first station is where the houses are sold through silent auction. Organizations who have donated in the past are Boy scouts, Hospice, WIBW and Prairie Band Casino.

“Prairie Band Casino once made a replica of the casino out of gingerbread,” said Blair Adams, events services manager at TPAC.

Other memorable gingerbread houses available to be viewed this year include a replica of Topeka High School, a sandcastle and a storybook made by Topeka Civic to promote one of their children’s shows.

Attendants of the event are given kits at the first station to build their own gingerbread houses and some of them can be very interesting.

“One year a family of 10 made a whole village out of their kits including a church and post office,” said Aldridge.

Anyone with a creative mind can come up with their own gingerbread masterpiece.

The money raised from this event goes towards funding TPAC’s youth education programs such as Sheffel theater clinic, school time theater performances and Young Artists of the Year Awards.

Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays is a Topeka tradition that relies mostly on the community for advertisement.

“Nearly 2,000 people attend the event annually,” said Aldridge. “We have teachers calling in the fall to confirm.”

Nov. 18th is when the schools are allowed to come and visit, and according to Blair, the people who have gone in the past tend to keep coming. There are some who have come every year.

Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays is a Topeka tradition that is both entertaining for people of all ages and gives support to TPAC’s youth education programs. This event is truly in the spirit of Christmas. Not only do they provide a chance for Topeka residents to build their own gingerbread houses, but it also promotes donations to a program that brings smiles to the faces of Topeka’s youth.