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Douglas County Library holds gingerbread building competition

The finished gingerbread houses earned points for creativity and withstanding stress tests.

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From left, Molly Schmidt, Grace Schloegl, and Lilly Gylsen, use vanilla frosting to keep their house together. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria teens teamed up to face off against each other in a "Xtreme Gingerbread Challenge" at the Douglas County Library on Monday, Dec. 6. The winning team received a bag of prizes to share amongst themselves.

Each team had to construct a gingerbread house made from graham crackers, pretzels, frosting and assorted candies. The houses earned points based on house details — doors, windows, etc. — the number of candies used, and their ability to withstand a series of stress tests, tilt, balance and weight thresholds.

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Cole Roocker, left, and his mother Sarah work together to build a sturdy house during the Xtreme Gingerbread Challenge. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

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Molly Schmidt, 13; Lilly Gylsen, 14; and Grace Schloegl, 13, won the gingerbread challenge against Cole Roocker, 12, from Alexandria, and his parents Ben and Sarah, with a score of 86 to 68.5. The winning team took home a prize bag filled with books, a mug and stickers.

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From left, Molly Schmidt, Grace Schloegl, and Lilly Gylsen win the Xtreme Gingerbread Challenge at the Douglas County Library. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Sarah said the plan was to create something that wouldn't break. "It's not about looks," she said.

Schmidt and her team went with a different approach; while they did succeed in making their house structurally sound, their strategy was based on the points the amount of candy provided, so they added a lot.

Holly Leftridge, the teen services librarian, wanted to create a fun, creative baking/building activity for teens with a competitive edge; thus, the Xtreme Gingerbread Challenge was born.

"Teens love competition," said Leftridge.

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Molly Schmidt and her team decorate the gingerbread house at the Douglas County Library. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

The holiday season is the perfect time to implement the construction/baking activity as gingerbread houses are common this time of year, she added.

The tilt test was measured by tilting the house's platform from one side to the other to see if the house slid; any candies that fell off resulted in a loss of points.

The balance test was conducted by balancing a ruler at the house's highest point, testing the level of the house. And the weight test was conducted by stacking books on top of the house.

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From left, Ben, Sarah, and Cole Roocker compete in the Xtreme Gingerbread Challenge at the Douglas County Library. Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
Organizers hope to make this an annual event.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.