Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne’s Gingerbread Festival is one of the city’s tastiest holiday traditions. It takes hundreds of volunteers and bakers to pull it off every year. Two of those bakers have been part of the event’s baking brigade for a very long time.
“I’ve been doing gingerbread since 1987,” Deb Sorg told WANE 15. Two weeks out of the year Sorg’s country kitchen turns into a Christmas gingerbread workshop.
“It’s kind of like a marathon,” said Sorg. Sorg and her friend Marilyn Scheumann are long time baking buddies who say gingerbread is in their blood. “Deb is the brains, I’m the muscle,” said Scheumann. “I do all the rolling and all the cutting while Deb concentrates on the pattern, doing the windows, the candles, all the detailed stuff. It’s stuff I can’t do.”
Sorg and Scheumann use their creativity to construct edible houses for Fort Wayne’s annual Gingerbread Festival at the History Center. “It’s always wonderful to see the individual gingerbread creations come into the History Center,” said Executive Director Todd Pelfrey. “This year we are well on track to have over 100 entries so the judges will certainly have their work cut out for them.”
“I always do a historical house,” said Sorg. This year she and Scheumann are making a sweets-filled version of a building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s Fort Wayne’s former art museum, the Castle Gallery at 1202 West Wayne Street.
Prep work is extensive. From start to finish the entire process takes approximately 150 hours and involves 150 different ingredients. “We have everything from cookies to M&M’s,” said Scheumann. “Plus tons of sprinkles.”
“You’re sharing a gift. It takes a lot of time to do it right,” said Sorg.
The hard work has really paid off. Over the last 30 plus years the pair has received at least 20 awards in both the adult and professional categories. “Whether it’s first year gingerbread artist or a Pre-K group all the way up to the professional culinary artist, just seeing the creativity and ingenuity that goes into each one of these creations is really something special,” said Pelfrey.
For Sorg and Scheumann, winning awards is not what drives their hunger for their gingerbread hobby. Their bond goes beyond baking. “We have a tree of life,” said Scheumann. “In 1999 my father was living at my house he had cancer. He came over to the table and was helping us put things together and so every year since then we’ve done this tree of life. Then Deb’s dad passed away so it’s kind of a neat symbol for both of us.”
WANE 15 is a sponsor of the Gingerbread Festival. You can check it out during the Night of Lights on Wednesday, November 27th from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the History Center at 302 East Berry Street downtown. The festival opens for the season the day after Thanksgiving.