The Red Deer restaurant known for its Christmas decorations is inviting local businesses to bring their own seasonal sprucing skills to the dining room tables.
abc Country Restaurant is registering offices and community groups for their second annual Gingerbread House Competition on Nov. 27, when teams of four or five will decorate a gingerbread house kit as they see fit.
The corporate confectionery competition also raises funds for the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation, which supports those suffering from mental illness through high-impact programs.
Teams that register for the competition will be provided with kits that come with decorations, but Charles Leclair, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Nicole, said they are also encouraged to bring some bits and baubles of their own.
Leclair said the Red Deer Advocate team designed a castle with their own homemade icing last year, for example, and Southside Dodge brought pretzels for a log house look.
“Everybody enjoyed themselves and had a nice evening,” he said. “It’s always good when there’s food, drink and Christmas music, and the restaurant’s always really well-decorated for the holiday.”
Seven of the eight teams that competed in the inaugural event are returning this year and registration is still open.
The entry fee is $500 per team, which includes the cost of the gingerbread house kit as well as unlimited wine and cocktails, and a buffet of appetizers. The appetizers include flatbreads, wings and dry ribs off of the regular restaurant menu, as well as some special-made items.
The cocktail party starts at 5 p.m., with teams decorating between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The gingerbread houses will then be on display at the restaurant until Christmas.
“It’s a great advertising opportunity for businesses,” Leclair said. “People drive from Calgary and Edmonton just to eat at the restaurant because it’s a bit of a Christmas wonderland.”
The restaurant will have no less than seven Christmas trees this year, he added.
“You name it, it’s here. People love that we go all out in our restaurant. Everywhere you look it’s Christmas.”
While the event is meant to be fun and festive, the fundraising aspect also hits close to home. The Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation was created in 2015 after Lindsey Kathleen More tragically took her life at the age of 22. At the time, Leclair said she was friends with a server at the restaurant.
“That hit her hard,” Leclair said of his former staff member. “We also know her family.”
Lindsey’s family developed the foundation after her death. It has raised over $100,000 to date thanks to generous citizens, businesses, and anonymous donors.
The Leclairs are hoping to raise $10,000 for the foundation this year by registering 20 teams total.