Moab resident Shannan Butler is organizing a gingerbread competition at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. The event is taking place on Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. [Photo courtesy of Shannan Butler]

As a child being raised as a Jehovah Witness, a religion that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Shannan Butler secretly admired the holiday and all of its merry traditions. She’s now out of the closet about celebrating the Christmas holiday and is organizing what she hopes will become an annual Moab tradition — a gingerbread competition.

Gingerbread entries will be displayed on Nov. 29 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC), 111 E. 100 North. The display will continue during the MARC Holiday Art and Craft Fair on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

“I know a lot of bakers in Moab,” Butler said. “I’d like to challenge all the Moab bakers to come and show their Christmas spirit.”

Butler is a clay potter and found that making a gingerbread scene was a way to combine her passions for art and baking.

The theme for the Canyonlands Gingerbread Competition is “Winter Wonderland.” Participants may interpret that topic in whichever way they choose, Butler said. You can make a gingerbread house, reindeer, a sleigh, or any other kind of winter scene, she added.

The $25 entry fee will go toward prizes and administrative costs, with any remaining proceeds donated to Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides shelter for women and children. Registration for entering the Canyonlands Gingerbread Competition is due before Friday, Nov. 23, at 5 p.m.

The finished gingerbread entries should be dropped off at the MARC on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. Judging of the gingerbread creations will take place that evening, from 5 to 7 p.m., although the winners will not be revealed until the awards ceremony on Dec. 1. Participants will compete for first, second and third place prize money. Spectators are invited to look at the gingerbread display and vote for their favorite creation for the “People’s Choice Award.”

Liz Holland, the MARC’s special events assistant, said she scheduled the gingerbread contest during the center’s annual art and craft fair because of the exposure the gingerbread display would receive at the popular holiday event.

“The gingerbread entries will be displayed right out front; it will be the first thing you see,” making it easy for people to vote for their favorite construction, she said.

“Hopefully we’ll get lots of entrants,” Butler said.

If you’ve never made a gingerbread house or other gingerbread construction, Butler suggests looking at YouTube for demonstrations, or searching online for instructions and ideas.

One rule is that it must be entirely edible, and that 75 percent of the entry must be made of gingerbread. Candy, marshmallows, coconut and other edible confections may be used for decoration.

Judging criteria will include overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme.

“Get creative,” Butler said. “I love Moab at Christmas-time. Moab is festive.”

Awards ceremony tops off holiday celebration

“I’d like to challenge all the Moab bakers to come and show their Christmas spirit.”

What: Register for the Canyonlands Gingerbread Competition

When: Registration due before Friday, Nov. 23, at 5 p.m.

Cost: $25 per entry

Information: Call 435-259-6272 or 435-260-7225

What: Canyonlands Gingerbread Competition

When: Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 29 to Dec. 1

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: Free for spectators

What: Canyonlands Gingerbread Competition Awards Ceremony

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m.

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: Free for spectators