This year’s event featured nearly 200 entries.

By Mike Pomranz
November 21, 2018
Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Call it the "Academy Awards of Gingerbread Houses." For the 26th year, the National Gingerbread House Competition pored through entries to name the best seasonal cookie house in the land this week. For 2018, the annual competition — which is hosted at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina — featured 195 edible creations hoping for a piece of over $25,000 in cash and prizes.

Entries — which are split among adult, teen (13- to 17-year-olds), youth (9- to 12-year-olds), and child (5- to 8-year-olds) categories — must be made of at least 75 percent gingerbread (at least one entry had to be disqualified this year) and are judged on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme. This year’s judges "featured world-renowned pastry chefs, artists and media experts, including Mark Seaman, the master sugar artist for Barry Callebaut; Nadine Orenstein, curator of the department of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; head judge, Nicholas Lodge, author of over one dozen sugar art books and instructional DVDs; celebrity chef and author Carla Hall; and many others," according to an announcement.

This year’s Grand Prize Winner (seen above) was Julie and Michael Andreacola of nearby Indian Trail, North Carolina, with their "house" called "Gearing Up for Christmas." The entry featured Santa tuning up his sleigh in his workshop and included actual working gears made out of gingerbread.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Second place in the adult category went to Canadian Catherine Beddall of Ottawa, Ontario for her intricately designed clock.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Third place went to another North Carolinian, Grier Rubeling of Cary, for a humorous design of reindeer playing poker.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Topping the Teen category was a group entry from the Courtland High School German Club in Spotsylvania, Virginia, for their depiction of a town center.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Second place went to Gabriella Arthur of Easley, South Carolina for her dragon design.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Third place went to Chloe Jennings of Purlear, North Carolina.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

The top prize in the Youth category was another group entry, this one from The Salty Skateboarding Bears on Mars in Asheville, North Carolina, featuring an Asian-inspired landscape.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

The second place prize went to a pair of siblings, Carly and Katie Owens of Taylorsville, North Carolina.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

And third place in the Youth category went to a group known as the S’morals from Greenville, South Carolina.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Finally, the winning entry in the Child category was from Cabarrus Charter Kids in China Grove, North Carolina for their owl design.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Second place went to locals David and Trenton Hodges from Asheville, North Carolina who created a farm scene.

Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

And third place was a treehouse created by Addison Bennett of Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

All of the winning entries above, as well as the rest from the competition, will be on display at The Omni Grove Park Inn from Sunday, November 25 to Thursday, January 4, 2019. Entrance is free; however, parking costs $20, though half of the parking proceeds go towards local nonprofit organizations. Driving has proved a popular choice: The inn says it’s contributed over $340,000 since 2013 from drive-in guests.

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