Residents can enjoy homemade baked goods along with a free concert by donating food, clothing or pet items.
Decadent fluffy cupcakes decorated with green and red frosting and sprinkles on top. A three-tier chocolate cake with powdered sugar made to look like snow covering its surface. Intricately shaped sugar cookies covered in royal icing to mimic snowmen, Christmas trees, presents, snowflakes and other holiday icons.
Residents can enjoy all of these delicious creations and more at the ninth annual Christmas Cookie Decorating and Baking Contest hosted by the Long Beach nonprofit Community Action Team.
At least 30 entrants will enter their homemade cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, cupcakes and other goodies to enter one of six prizes. Winners will receive $50 to donate to their favorite charity, school, organization or place of worship, while residents will get the chance to try the contested creations for themselves.
The event has gone through many iterations, first starting with a fall-themed bake off with a separate Christmas cookie decorating contest held during one of the nonprofit’s monthly cleanups.
The celebration now takes place at Bay Shore Community Congregational Church, along with a 25-piece professional wind and percussion orchestra with the Southern California Wind Instrument Consortium. The 90-minute concert is free to attendees, while judges in the adjacent hall will decide the winners of the baking contest and the Christmas cookie decorating contest.
Justin Rudd, who leads the Community Action Team, said he combined the two baking events to lighten his workload while planning the monthly beach clean-ups and subsequent holiday events. Now he realized that adding a free concert was his “gift to the community.”
Although the concert and tasting reception are free, residents are asked to bring a donation of pet products for Operation Santa’s Paws or food and clothing for people who have become homeless.
Rood said the homeless shelters his nonprofit partners with mostly ask for packages of men’s black socks this time of year.
Baking competitions are also free and open to people of all ages and skill levels.
“We want to take away anything that might prevent someone from coming in,” Rudd said. “The rules are simple, it has to be baked, it can’t be bought from the store or from a box. We want it to be from scratch.”
Additional rules include:
- Cakes should be served whole, not sliced or served individually
- Participants must bring their own serving utensils and cutting knife
- For those bringing in smaller entries such as cupcakes, brownies, bars, etc., there is a minimum of 24 items for the judges and community to sample.
- Entrants may enter more than one item, but the competition is for individuals, not teams or partners.
Entries will be judged by the current Miss Long Beach and Miss Southern California, as well as food critics, restaurant writers, and a yet-to-be-announced baker or culinary teacher.
For those entering the baking competitions, items must be left ready for display from 4:00pm to 4:45pm Judging will begin at 4:45pm, the Christmas Concert will begin at 5:00pm. , and the tasting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m
All events are free and will be held at Bay Shore Community Congregational Church at 5100 E The Toledo in Long Beach. Although the events are free, residents must reserve their spot online as seats for the concert are limited.