Asheville – Dozens of unique and elaborate gingerbread creations are on display to the general public one last time — on Sunday, Jan. 2 in the Omni Grove Park Inn.
People can see the entries in person on Sunday after 3 p.m. — not before. The hotel’s guests can see the gingerbreads this Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
The contest was viewed virtually only a year ago due to the pandemic. People can visit them in person as usual — but for the first time in two years. This is the 29th annual National Gingerbread House Competition.
The contest sprung out of an exhibit in 1992 of gingerbreads made by local people. Contestants hail from around the country. Judges are nationally renowned food, arts and media pros. Winning gingerbreads are often featured on such TV shows as NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America and on the Food Network and Travel Channel.
The grand prize winner is entitled ‘Christmas ‘Round the World.’ It has a colorful merry-go-round ride. Details pop out. Elves seem adventurous as they ride a lion, panda, elephant, turtle or sled. This winning gingerbread is made by five people from Phoenix, Ariz. They call themselves “The Merry Mischief Bakers” — a take-off on “mischief makers.”
A local champion is Lolajay Wilson of Asheville in the youth division, for Picture Perfect Holiday. It features a gingerbread camera, atop two stacked books. This entry is cheesy in the sense that it has three mice and cheese those critters crave. A huge slab of cheese sits between the camera and the top book to prop up the camera’s lens. The book on the bottom is Photographing Holiday Cheeses. The book on top of it is a memoir entitled Mouse King: Not a Creature Was Stirring.
The teen winner is Elves After Hours, by Cortland High of Spotsylvania, Va. It has 12 drawers with small elves crawling all about. The children’s category is for the youngest contestants. South Carolinian Parker Webster won, for Zoom with Santa.
Yummy Life Lessons
A local finisher in the top ten is a group of “exceptional children” (EC) that Alexis Burnette teaches in Glenn C. Marlow Elementary in Henderson County. They range from third to fifth grade. They placed in the youth division for their age range.
Their rewards include developing teamwork, refined motor skills and solving problems they encountered. “They see a piece of the project break, and they work through how to repair it,” Burnette explained to the schools’ Public Information Officer Molly McGowan Gorsuch. “They learn patience with themselves and with each other. They learn creativity. They experience the pride of a group effort. And they may just learn a new skill or two in the process that will help land them a job one day.”
The students created a large green locomotive. Its chimney seems to emit steam — made of popcorn. The children decorated in detail sugar cone spruce trees all around the train.
Abraham Bloomer, age eight, leaned up to the candied creation. He said, “Oh, wow, this tree smells good!.”
This marked Burnette’s third EC class to make the top ten in four tries beginning in 2017. She said the biggest payoff is simply seeing the finished product displayed along with other entries in the majestic Grove Park Inn. They were “pumped” with excitement, when they saw it on display on Dec. 1.
Contest Entry Tips
Winners were announced Nov. 22.
People envious of the winners can plan ahead for entering the contest next year. They can check the hotel’s online gingerbread competition link for guidelines and tips. The entry form’s summary should describe “vision, theme, backstory, process and material usage that may not be obvious from viewing your video and photo content.” It helps to describe new techniques the contestant developed.
Photos should “demonstrate building processes, materials and technique.” For child or youth entries, photos should show the young contestant “executing difficult components for proof of creation” — proving the child actually created it instead of an adult doing the work.
Videos must last two to three minutes. They should tell “the story behind” the creation, and “highlight different components” with closeups when circling around the entire exterior.
Competition details will be announced next summer.