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For the first time in three years, Exploration Place and the Assistance League of Wichita are hosting Gingerbread Village this weekend. 

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Exploration Place Saturday and Sunday. Some of the money made from tickets goes back to the Assistance League. 

“In addition to our thrift shop, this is the largest fundraiser that we do during the course of the year,” Ruth Ann Koepsel with the Assistance League said. 

Organizers said they are expecting over 3,500 people this weekend to come to the event. Participants get to build their own gingerbread houses. 

“It’s a lot of fun, between the artistic ability of a three-year-old and seven-year-old, but it’s a lot of fun memories,” parent Alicia Gibson said. 

The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Koepsel said it took a hit to the Assistance League’s fundraising efforts. 

“The thrift shop also had to close for an extended period of time, and so it really did impact…we didn’t ever stop doing our philanthropic work, but we did have to scale things back a bit,” she said. 

The non-profit runs four local programs, including one that gives new clothes to students in need. It also supports assault victims in the Wichita community. 

“We were hoping the community would, you know, remember and want come back, and so it’s been really encouraging,” Laura Roddy with Exploration Place said. 

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. Admission to Exploration Place for the day is included. 

“You didn’t realize how much you appreciated doing things and having experiences that we just missed out on during those two years,” Koepsel said. 

“Just the expressions on people’s faces and the fact that they’re having that experience together.”