After holding the event virtually last year, the competition took place in person once again for 2021.

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National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
The Merry Mischief Bakers, "Christmas 'Round the World" – Phoenix, AZ; Courtland High German Program, "Elves After Hours" – Spotsylvania, VA
| Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, the National Gingerbread House Competition soldiered on for its 28th year, albeit in virtual form. But for 2021, the largest gingerbread house competition in America returned to its usual format: a live competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.

Unsurprisingly, this 29th annual event saw more entries (over 120 this year compared to less than 100 in 2020) but the stakes remained the same: first, second, and third place awards across four age groups — child (5- to 8-year-olds), youth (9- to 12-year-olds), teen (13- to 17-year-olds), and adult – with $25,000 worth of cash and prizes.

And as in the past, a team of judges (once again headlined by chef Carla Hall) evaluated all of the houses (which had to be at least 75 percent gingerbread and 100 percent edible) on "overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme."

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
The Merry Mischief Bakers, "Christmas 'Round the World" – Phoenix, AZ
| Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

The grand prize went to The Merry Mischief Bakers, a group from Phoenix, Arizona, and their entry called "Christmas 'Round the World" — an impressively intricate carousel. These Arizonans are working towards a bit of a dynasty after winning last year's competition as well.

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Second place in the adult category went to Grier Rubeling of Cary, North Carolina (who has placed in previous competitions) for "Gingerbread Nutcrackers."

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Finally, taking home third in the adult category were Bill and Cheryl Filion for "A Spin on Christmas."

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
Courtland High German Program, "Elves After Hours" – Spotsylvania, VA
| Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Topping the teen category was "Elves After Hours," a complex advent calendar-themed gingerbread house courtesy of the Courtland High German Program in Spotsylvania, Virginia. These competition regulars took some this same award in the 2019 event.

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
Lolajay Wilson, "Picture Perfect Holiday" – Asheville, NC
| Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Meanwhile, local Asheville, North Carolina resident Lolajay Wilson won the youth category with a very realistic "house" portraying a camera on top of a couple of books entitled "Picture Perfect Holiday."

National Gingerbread House Competition Winners
Parker Webster, "Zoom with Santa" – Greenville, SC
| Credit: Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

And for the youngest entrants in the 5- to 8-year-old "child" category, first place went to Parker Webster of Greenville, South Carolina, for "Zoom with Santa" — a fittingly-modern creation humorously showing Santa on a Zoom call with a bunch of his elves.

If you want to see more from the event, in a new spin, The National Gingerbread House Competition will be showing off 12 days of winners from December 1 to 12 on Facebook and Instagram. Or, if you happen to be in North Carolina, The Omni Grove Park Inn will be displaying all of the winners from November 28 to January 2 during select visiting hours.