Incredibly edible castle impresses voters the most

When it comes to gingerbread houses in Lake Oswego, Paul and Terri Graham are king and queen of the castle. by: JAMIE INGLIS - Terri and Paul Graham stand by the gingerbread castle that is making them famous. Their creation again was voted tops in Lake Oswego.

In fact, their winning gingerbread creation for the third annual Lake Oswego Gingerbread Contest was based on a real German castle with spires, a trap door, clock tower, a shuffleboard court and a secret dining room where Bavaria’s King Ludvig insisted on eating his meals alone in the 19th century.

Of such great touches gingerbread house contests winners are made.

“It was based on real life and a real-life king,” Paul Graham said. “It took King Ludvig 11 years to build his castle. It took us 50 hours to build our gingerbread house. But it felt like 11 years.”

The Grahams didn’t farm out the task, they did it themselves, with some help from a friendly neighbor, Sonya Donnelly. If you are king you can afford to be crazy, and the remarkably reclusive King Ludvig really pushed the envelope. He insisted on dining alone, so he built in a trap door with a table set below. The Grahams faithfully and skillfully recreated this with their gingerbread house.

Originally, the Grahams did not intend to enter the 2012 contest because Graham’s Book & Stationary had won the contest last year. Paul Graham figured they had nowhere to go but down.

There were 16 entries this year, including a masterpiece over at Crave Bake Shop, which took second place. However, the Grahams discovered that the Lake Oswego public expected them to enter again.

“Two things happened,” Paul Graham said. “In Lake Oswego Leadership Class one guy told me, ‘I came because of the gingerbread tour they held last year.’ I thought, ‘Gosh!’”

Graham thought “Gosh!” again when a customer asked him when he was going to put out his gingerbread house.

“She said her granddaughter had voted for us last year and that she was coming again,” Paul Graham said. “I thought, ‘I guess we better do it.’”

Last Friday, some spirited elves (Kathy Schilling and Jamie Inglis of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department) pranced into the Graham’s building with the big announcement and bearing a trophy.

“The competition was particularly tight this year,” Inglis said. “The winning stores were separated by only a few votes. Over a thousand people voted.”

But when the finally tally was made, Paul and Terri Graham again reigned supreme.

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