Morgan resident Jennifer Vesper took second place honors in the 3rd annual Ivory Homes Gingerbread Contest, earning a$500 cash prize not only for herself, but for her Relay for Life team.
This year, 18 entrants took Ivory Homes’ home designs as their inspiration. Vesper chose the Kensington design for its “traditional” look. All elements had to be 100 percent edible. Vesper lovingly dedicated 72 hours to her creation, hand carving rocks, and hand cutting the roof tiles.
Such culinary dedication is not new to Vesper, who has been professionally decorating cakes for 12 years. It began as a way to earn money while staying home with her children and quickly morphed into a consuming business with up to four cakes a week.
Although Vesper has scaled back her cake decorating endeavors lately, she loves cultivating a love for the art through staying involved in many community events. This year, she headed up the gingerbread contest for Christmas on Commercial Street, earned the sweepstakes ribbon for her fair-inspired cake at the annual Morgan County Fair, and taught various cake decorating classes.
Heading the local gingerbread contest mean she couldn’t enter her own creation. So, when she heard about the Ivory Homes contest through a friend, she jumped at the chance. The fact that proceeds from auctioning off the cakes were to benefit the Utah Food Bank, and winners could receive cash for their favorite charity, sealed the deal.
Her entry sold for $225 at the silent auction, $100 more than any other entry.
The charming Santa, elf and polar bear characters atop the pitched roof made Vesper’s entry a favorite. Results came from on-site judging at Day Break in South Jordan, judges, and facebook votes. Thanks specifically to many Morgan Moms’ votes, Vesper’s entry tallied 386, losing by only 32 facebook votes.
For her first-ever gingerbread house competition, it’s not a bad showing.
The money, notoriety and experience that came from the contest wasn’t quite the only thing that kept Vesper motivated.
“I have never entered a gingerbread house competition, so I was incredibly nervous,” Vesper said. “But I will do anything to earn money for my Relay for Life team that benefits the American Cancer Society. I couldn’t think of a more deserving place for my gingerbread house to be entered.”
Vesper’s sister passed away in January of 2011 shortly after being diagnosed with gall bladder/bile duct cancer.
“I have been an avid Relay for Life supporter even since,” she said. “My sister was one of my biggest cheerleaders when it came to decorating cakes and I know she would be proud of me.”
Despite the hours of preparation and anxiety as each facebook vote came in during the close competition, Vesper plans to try again next year.
“It was a lot of work, but I would do it over again because it benefits so many people,” she said.