VIRGINIA CITY - They range from ornate to plain and offer designs in all shapes and colors, but despite their differences, the newest homes up for sale here have one thing in common.
After they're purchased, feel free to rip off a chunk and enjoy.
Dec. 17 brings the showcase for the seventh annual Virginia City Gingerbread Contest, during which the 13 entries received for this year's competition will be judged in the Ballroom at the Delta Saloon and then auctioned off.
"We do it because nobody else does a gingerbread contest and because it's fun," said Sage Atreides, event coordinator.
The Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority sponsors the event as a fundraiser for various community organizations and causes. This year, the proceeds from the contest will go to the Virginia City Middle School Girls Basketball Team and to soldiers from Storey County stationed overseas.
"We are sending troops from Storey County Mardi Gras care packages including beads, jerky and candy. Things we think the troops will like that they can't easily lay their hands on," said Atreides.
The number of entries for the 2005 contest was about average, but the age of the creators was something organizers haven't seen before.
"We are heavy on youth entries and that's unusual for the contest," said Atreides.
There are four categories in the competition: Advanced/professional, open, youth and senior. The advanced category encompasses entrants who have previously won first place in the adult category and includes professionals in the food industry. The adult category is open to anyone who has not previously won in that category.
The youth category is for children age 13 and under and the senior category is open to entrants ages 55 and older.
The contest has several guidelines for the construction of houses including that entries must be made of edible materials excluding lights and the base, the base can be no more than five inches beyond the perimeter of the house and entries must have been completed by Dec. 3.
"We added the base requirement because we were getting some really tiny houses on three-foot bases and we just ran out of room for them," said Atreides.
This year's entries include various housing designs as well as a model of a V &T Railroad engine. Entries are on display at the Virginia City Visitor's Center through Dec. 17.
First prize in the advanced and adult category will receive $150 and the entrant's name on the winner's plaque, the youth winner will receive a $50 savings bond and the senior winner will receive a ribbon and certificate.
All entries will be auctioned off at the Gingerbread Social at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Delta Saloon.
Atreides said people considering entering next year's competition should begin looking at design and recipe ideas now to make it easier as the event approaches.
"Start early and get your recipe and idea set. You know you can't put one of these together in three hours, it takes a lot of time to make a gingerbread house," Atreides said.
If you go
What: Virginia City Gingerbread Contest
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 17
Where: Delta Saloon, 18 S. C St., in Virginia City
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.