ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Nothing says the holiday season like a massive gingerbread house competition.
The 30th annual National Gingerbread House Competition — billed as America’s largest — announced its winners and shared photos of the intricate, creative displays.
The competition included 219 gingerbread house entries across the adult, teen, youth, and child categories for a chance to win more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, a 60% increase to years past, organizers said. This year's judge panel evaluated each creation based on overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme, with each entry required to be 75% gingerbread and 100% edible.
The 2022 Grand Prize Winner for the adult category was Ann Bailey from Cary, North Carolina, who created a gingerbread house called "When Dreams Have Wings."
Grand Prize Winner, Ann Bailey (Credit: Annual National Gingerbread House Competition/The Omni Grove Park Inn)
The teen first-place winner (ages 13-17) was listed as Rhinehart Girls of Columbia, Tennessee, for the "Fairy Tea House."
Teen First Place, Rhinehart Girls (Credit: Annual National Gingerbread House Competition/The Omni Grove Park Inn)
The youth (ages 9-12) first-place winner was Coble Adams of Raleigh, North Carolina, for "Santa Yoda and His Baby Elves."
Youth First Place, Coble Adams (Credit: Annual National Gingerbread House Competition/The Omni Grove Park Inn)
First place in the child category (ages 5-8) was Maisy Frahler of Greenville, South Carolina, for "Christmas Morning Paper Dolls."
Child First Place, Maisy Frahler (Credit: Annual National Gingerbread House Competition/The Omni Grove Park Inn)
The competition, held by the Omni Grove Park Inn near Asheville, also introduced six new Specialty Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards, renamed in memory of former lead judge Chef Nicholas Lodge. The new awards included "Best Use of Color," "Best Use of Sprinkles," "Most Unique Ingredient," "Pop Culture Star," "Most Innovative Structure," and "Longest Standing Competitor."
Additionally, 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," which went to Jessica Frost of El Paso, Texas, for "Engine of America."
People's Choice Awards: Best in Show, Jessica Frost (Credit: Annual National Gingerbread House Competition/The Omni Grove Park Inn)
The 2022 winners across the six new Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards included:
- Best Use of Color: Difficult Dessert Devotees, "Inside Out Christmas Party" – Fuquay-Varina, NC
- Best Use of Sprinkles: Odyssey 3-4 Seekers, "The Ginger Ridge Parkway" – Asheville, NC
- Most Unique Ingredient: Strangest Sisters, "Vecna's Lair" – Asheville, NC (with the use of Nori)
- Most Innovative Structure: Team Andreacola, "National Museum of Gingerbread" – Indian Trail, NC
- Pop Culture Star: Coble Adams, "Santa Yoda And His Baby Elves" – Raleigh, NC
- Longest Standing Competitor: Merry Spafford, "Mother Goose on the Loose" – Loudon, TN (having competed 19 consecutive years)
The Omni Grove Park Inn is displaying all the gingerbread creations in-person throughout the resort through Jan. 2, 2023. The hotel is also sharing one of the Top 12 finalists each day on its Facebook (@omnigroveparkinn) and Instagram (@omnigrovepark) pages through Dec. 12.
The National Gingerbread House Competition began in 1992 with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members. It has since grown to become "one of the nation's most competitive holiday events," organizers said.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.