Neither Llew Hollingsworth nor Janet Boyhan is especially devoted to baking, but they can't help but be captivated by the Port of Bellingham's annual gingerbread contest.
The same might be said of the many people who view their delectable creations.
"It's so much fun and it makes people smile," said Boyhan, who lives near Everson and delights in creating unusual and historic gingerbread structures.
Hollingsworth, a Bellingham resident who is retired from teaching English at Burlington-Edison High School, has won three consecutive senior division titles, beginning with her first entry.
"I win the first prizes but my housemate, Vonnie Chantrill, attracts the most auction money with her creations," she said. "I guess mine are cuter, but hers have all the expertly made elegance."
After judging on Thursday, Dec. 3, dozens of gingerbread creations no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet will be on display Friday through Sunday at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal as part of the Port of Bellingham Holiday Port Festival. A silent auction of the creations will raise money for the Red Cross.
Question: Llew, what was it like to enter the first time?
Answer: It looked like it would be fun, especially because I'm into crafts. What I remember is how we had that big snowstorm just before my first contest.
Q: What happened?
A: I called a taxi to pick me up with my display in the snow. I won't forget how the taxi driver had had such a tough day battling the conditions, but once he saw the gingerbread house, it really 'un-grumpied' him. In fact, he loved them so much, he even helped me bring mine in for the judging.
Q: What have your themes been?
A: Last year I created an elf house, and the year before a village theme with two Santas on the roof. My first prize winner was a wonderland house with dancing Christmas trees patterned after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. That's the one that inspired Vonnie to enter. Now, they have changed the age divisions this year, so she's back in the adult division and I'm in the seniors.
Q: Janet, what convinced you to create such unusual gingerbread structures?
A: Ginger, molasses and pumpkin are three of my favorite flavors, and I love the smell of gingerbread. But what I like is the sculptural aspect of replicating real historic structures, and the problem solving.
Q: What have you done in recent years?
A: I did the Hovander house in Ferndale to scale, and the Lynden Public Library. That one was fun because I gave it to the library to show during the holidays. I've also done the Eiffel Tower, historic Everson, my grandmother's farmhouse, a train, and farm equipment.
Q: Janet, what's on tap for this year?
A: I'm planning a display of unusual animal shapes, if everything works out. Like everyone else, I do it all after Thanksgiving and get real involved for a few days.
Llew: Vonnie and I spend three or four days on it, maybe 15 to 20 hours.
HOLIDAY PORT FESTIVAL
What: View gingerbread creations, visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, ride a fire truck, have fun with art activities, watch lighted boat parades, and enjoy musical and dance performances by local school and arts groups.
When: noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Ave.
Details: 676-2500 or portofbellingham.com/holidayport.htm.
MICHELLE NOLAN is a freelance writer.