ASHEVILLE, N.C. — From Peter Pan and Santa Clause to the Statue of Liberty and Wrigley Field, the creations entered into the Omni Grove Park Inn’s National Gingerbread House Competition pushed the boundaries on what’s possible when it comes to gingerbread house creations.
The Asheville, N.C. resort’s annual National Gingerbread House Competition returned for the 30th year in 2022. The event featured 219 entries across several categories including adult, teen, youth and child.
What began in 1992, with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members has blossomed into one of the nation’s most competitive holiday events.
“The level of artistry has really grown over these 30 years that the competition has been around,” The Omni Grove Park Inn’s Isabel Miller told WSB-TV’s Nelson Hicks. “The competition is called the National Gingerbread House Competition but it’s really grown in more than just houses. You see dragons, you see a working gumball machine this year.”
The gingerbread creations must be 100% edible and made of at least 75% gingerbread. This year’s judge panel evaluated each creation based on overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme.
Ann Bailey created this year’s grand prize winner. She spent more than 700 hours on her “When Dreams Have Wings” entry. It’s the fourth time she’s won the grand prize in the history of the competition.
The Omni Grove Park Inn introduced six new Specialty Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards, renamed in loving memory of former lead judge Chef Nicholas Lodge. The awards included “Best Use of Color,” “Best Use of Sprinkles,” “Most Unique Ingredient,” “Pop Culture Star,” “Most Innovative Structure,” and “Longest Standing Competitor.” Additionally, for the first time, registered competitors had the opportunity to vote on their favorite design to determine the winner of the new “People’s Choice: Best in Show Award.”
The gingerbread houses will be on display through Jan. 2. Guests spending the night at the historic hotel can enjoy the twin 36-foot fireplaces, over 80 Christmas trees, a life-sized gingerbread house modeled after the historic hotel, craft brews and the resort’s signature hot chocolate.
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