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Area woman bakes sweet treats for competitions

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
For The Independent-Observer
This Gingerbread House - titled “Log Cabin” - was submitted by Susan Wright of Scottdale in Mt. Pleasant's Gingerbread House display in the professional category. Barbara Denning | For The Independent-Observer

If you walk into Susan Wright's home at this time of year, you will likely see every available counter and table space filled with sheets of gingerbread. For Wright, the holiday season means it is time to compete in gingerbread house contests.

Wright has been competing in the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce Gingerbread House contest for the past five years at the professional level.

She said she began competing two decades ago while living in Tennessee.

“I have been entering gingerbread contests for 20 years, since I lived in Nashville,” said Wright.“I compete at the professional level because I used to teach cake decorating for Wilton Cakes,” she said.

When Wright moved to Scottdale seven years ago, she was looking for a local gingerbread contest when she read about the Ligonier competition in a newspaper.

“I love the homey atmosphere in Ligonier,” she said. “I look forward to coming back every year.”

Wright said she will also compete in a gingerbread house competition in Mt. Pleasant this year. All houses there will be on display at various Mt. Pleasant businesses located on Main Street in the borough from Nov. 20 through Dec. 21. All monies received will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

“I am doing a log cabin for the Mt. Pleasant competition,” she said. “It should be fun.”

She said she made her first gingerbread house for a friend's nieces. Then she saw an advertisement about the Nashville competition.

“Once you get started, it's really addictive,” she said. “I like to push the envelop, to challenge myself each time to do something new.”

Wright said she has designed a greenhouse, a birdhouse and a bakery for the Ligonier competition.

“One year, I would like to recreate the Ligonier bandstand,” she said. “I would also like to create a scene from Story Book Forest sometime.”

Wright said it is important to use the right icing when decorating the gingerbread houses.

“Royal icing is the glue that holds it all together,” she said.

She recommends to start buying candy after Halloween.

“After you start making the houses, you will never look at candy the same way again,” she said. “You will always think of ways to reuse the candy on a gingerbread house.”

She said this is a good project for grandparents and grandchildren to do together.

“It is a great tradition to start with your grandkids,” she said.

The houses will be on display at the Ramada Ligonier Saturday through Dec. 9. The community is invited to cast votes for the community favorite and place silent bids to purchase the houses. All proceeds benefit the Ligonier Meals on Wheels.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or