Masks are welcome but not required during your visit. Free masks are available for those who prefer them. Please read our current Health & Safety guidelines before your visit. >>

Gingerbread Invitational

Sweet, sweet competition.

The Annual Gingerbread Invitational is an exhibition of artful gingerbread creations by baking enthusiasts and community members of all skill levels. Make a visit to The Rockwell part of your family’s holiday tradition by casting your vote for the Community Choice Award! Plus, find seasonal gingerbread-themed activities for kids throughout the Museum and Art Lab.

Life of Bears By Elizabeth, Caitlin, Natalie and Jonathon Zilinski

This playful gingerbread portrays a “Bear Dinner Party” in the woods featuring household garbage as the main cuisine. It illustrates the Zilinski children’s observations of their neighborhood bears. After close examination, the children concluded that black bears enjoy licking leftovers out of a can and scattering kitty litter all over the land. While a black bear’s diet does not include manufactured things such as plastic rings or aluminum cans, they will eat your discarded raspberry jam. As distasteful as this may seem, leftover food makes it easy for bears to get the nourishment they need and helps them hibernate until the spring.

The Taughannock Giant
By Michael Dittman and Paige Klein Felder

This gingerbread depicts the discovery of the Taughannock Giant – a famed hoax in Tompkins County. On July 2, 1879, workers were widening a road near the Taughannock House, a popular tourist hotel near the falls overlook. While digging they unearthed what appeared to be a gigantic, petrified seven-foot man. The discovery was a sensation and the news spread quickly, bringing hundreds of spectators to the area. Within days of the discovery, Frank Creque, a schemer, revealed that the petrified man was fake. He shared that he was among a group of local men who buried the fake giant to attract business to the Taughannock House Hotel. The revelation of the hoax eventually waned, and in the process of removing the 800-pound giant it was dropped and broken. The pieces were buried in an orchard near Trumansburg, where they remain today.

We <3 FLX
By Leah and David Sorensen

This lovely gingerbread is inspired by a popular local tagline - We Love FLX - expressing the appreciation of and love for Finger Lakes’ unique topography and freshwater lakes. The Finger Lakes region of NY is approximately 9,000 square miles and is best known for its breathtaking views, outdoor activities, wineries, gorges, waterfalls and more. It is the home of eleven glacially scoured lakes and the tallest (215 foot) free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi – Taughannock Falls.

Chemung River and Corning, NY Bridges and Buildings
By Marie Roller

The Traylor-Milano family created a gingerbread respite in the shape of the home of Anne of Green Gables. Gina says that the peaceful happiness that you pick up on over and over in the story whenever she returns home from her adventures is something every child should be able to relate to. Crossing the threshold of her home was a return to a “wholesome, simple life…and the steadfast abiding love that was there for her.” This family hopes that Gingerbread Invitational guests this year will feel inspired to create a similar restful retreat in their own homes.

All Abord!
By Teachers: Sarah Gerow and Nicole Walker
Students:Micaela Becker, Dalton Bennett, William Hager, Hunter Hager, Chelsea Keech, Sophie Knapp, Lauren Nichols, Chloe Smith, Liberty Taft, Claire Thompson, Aronlee Towsley, Jason Zheng

This playful gingerbread is inspired by a section of railroad near Addison, NY. To get there, one must cross the railroad tracks and a bridge over the Canisteo River. Tuscarora Elementary School Art Club students portray what school would be like if a train car was transformed into a classroom. And, how trains are used to transport manufactured things, such as presents! Would you come aboard?

Waterfall Refuge
By Anne, Chris, Sam, and Tamriko Walters and Charles and Sue Milazzo

This idyllic gingerbread represents a nearby natural wonder, Taughannock Falls, located in Trumansburg, NY. Plunging 215 feet past rocky cliffs and shale walls, it is the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi and 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls. From its expansive gorges to its stunning trail views, it is the perfect place for a fall hike or a wintery snowshoe. For the Milazzo and Walters families, Taughannock Falls has been a respite since the pandemic began, describing it as the “enduring mergence of a sacred place that offers sanctuary to all who seek its refuge.”

Nighttime in the Gourd Garden
By Graham Ottoson

This creation is a gingerbread ode to the real Gourdlandia, near Ithaca, NY. A place where gourds are grown and turned into lamps, vessels and fairy houses. While most of the gourds are transformed into art, some become a house for a mouse. Providing fluffy insulation and seeds galore, mice find them the perfect place to stay dry and warm. But mice are not the only creatures to inhabit the gourd garden; pesky cucumber beetles eat the young leaves and feast on gourd pollen! Gourds are the only member of the Cucurbitaceae (squash family) that have white flowers that bloom at night. Each flower only gets one night, so the Ottosons are out in the garden with headlamps late every night in July, hand-pollinating. Can you tell the male and female flowers apart?

By Tiffany and Maddie Palm

This gingerbread design is inspired by the iconic Corning Building that illuminates the word “NOEL” during the holiday season. The structure, known as the “C Building,” was built in 1955 and is the former headquarters of Corning Incorporated, known then as Corning Glass Works. To correctly display “NOEL” employees were notified to leave their lights on or turn them off after each workday. Thanks to newly installed electrochromic glass, that task is no longer necessary. The “smart” glass can be programmed to be transparent or translucent, thereby controlling the amount of light seen from each window. The NOEL display is an area festive favorite and helps to spread cheer throughout the holiday season.

Isn’t Gingerbread Gorge-ous!
By Julie Paschal and Christina Steffanus

This Gorge-ous gingerbread creation showcases the topography and natural beauty of one New York’s iconic state parks. In the early 1900’s, Robert H. Treman, a local banker, merchant and former acting governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, purchased property in surrounding Enfield Glen Falls in Tompkins County to preserve the land and conserve the areas water resources. In 1920, Robert and his wife Laura donated the land to New York State so it could form several state parks including Robert H. Treman State Park. Today, the park is a 1,110-acre stretch of land near Ithaca, NY and features picturesque gorges, six spectacular trails, and 12 breathtaking waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls.

Images from 2021 Gingerbread Invitational


  • Individuals or teams submit design applications, responding to a unique annual theme.
  • Up to 12 submissions are selected to be featured in the Gingerbread Invitational exhibition – each artist/team has approximately 1 month to create their design and drop it off at The Rockwell Museum. Each team is awarded a $50 honorarium to help compensate them for their materials.
  • Once the exhibition opens for the season (approximately Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day), visitors to The Rockwell vote for their favorite gingerbread creations–the winner of the coveted Community Choice Award announced in January takes home a $500 prize and a hand-crafted trophy by ceramic artist Colleen McCall.


This year, Rockwell programming and exhibitions revolve around the theme of Spark! From Inspiration to Creation. In this spirit, we’re inviting bakers to design festive gingerbread creations of a place, person or object that inspires you–whatever sparks your curiosity and imagination!

Applications for the 2022 Gingerbread Invitational are due Friday, October 14.  

DOWNLOAD: Gingerbread Invitational – 2022 Rules and Application


Past Exhibitions + Winners

Gingerbread Invitational 2021: Environments Examined
Photo Album

Community Choice Award: Julie Paschal and Christina Steffanus | “Isn’t Gingerbread Gorge-eous!”

Gingerbread Invitational 2020: Advancing Women

Community Choice Award: Graham Ottoson | “The Old Woman Gets a Clue”

Gingerbread Invitational 2019: My Dream Home
Photo Album

Community Choice Award: Lindsay Traver | “Tudor Revival”

Gingerbread Invitational 2018: Fantastical Future 
Photo Album

First Place: Gina Traylor, Lauren Milano, Mary Milano | “Wegmans 2116”
Second Place: Tuscarora Elementary Art Club | “The Future of Addison CSD”
Third Place: Kristen Merritt, Amanda Gantert, Christopher Knitter | “Civic Center on the Hill”
Community Choice Award: Tuscarora Elementary Art Club | “The Future of Addison CSD”

Gingerbread Invitational 2017 
Photo Album

First Place: Ryan Anderson, in partnership with Card Carrying Books and Gifts | Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester, NY
Second Place: LaDonna Costello, Eldridge Park Carousel of Elmira, NY
Third Place: Kristen Merritt, Christopher Knitter, Amanda Gantert | Elmira Heights Theater
Community Choice Award: Ryan Anderson, in partnership with Card Carrying Books and Gifts | Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester, NY

Gingerbread Invitational 2016
Photo Album

First Place: Ann Cady, Colleen McCall, and Martha Easton | Mark Twain Study, Elmira, NY
Second Place: Wegmans Bakery | “Heart of Corning” – Centerway Square
Third Place: Barbara Mack of Corning Pie Works | Corning Fire Department
Community Choice Award: Ann Cady, Colleen McCall, and Martha Easton | Mark Twain Study, Elmira, NY

Gingerbread Invitational 2015
Photo Album

First Place: Amber Colby of ‘Cuse Cakes | Historic Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse 
Second Place: LaDonna Costello | Watkins Glen State Park South Pavilion
Third Place: Emily Elizabeth Smith, Tiffany Williams, Jessi Moore, Mandy Kritzeck and Alexandra Ruggiero | First Presbyterian Church in Bath, NY. 
Community Choice Award: LaDonna Costello | Watkins Glen State Park South Pavilion


Events Admission Tickets Become a Member

What's Happening
at The Rockwell

Please Touch!

Don't miss a thing!

Be the first to know about activities at The Rockwell by signing up for our e-newsletter. Choose the topics that interest you: exhibitions and collections news, live music events, lectures, family and youth events, education news, volunteer opportunities, and new offerings from The Museum Store.

Sign up for our e-newsletter