Talented gingerbread artists coast-to-coast recently came together to showcase their intricate, tasty creations, while celebrating the 26th year of the National Gingerbread House Competition, hosted at The Omni Grove Park Inn.

Across all categories, 195 entries were received from culinary enthusiasts across North America vying for a chance to win their share of more than $25,000 in cash and prizes at the historic Blue Ridge Mountain retreat, which is gearing up for a festive holiday season.

Each culinary design was judged on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme, with a requirement of being at least 75 percent gingerbread.

"This competition is unlike any other," said Tracey Johnston-Crum, director of Public Relations and Community Outreach at the Grove Park Inn. "The excitement that builds with each entry that arrives is palpable. We often talk about the way this event feels, which is impossible to accurately describe, but that is the thing that makes it unique.

"From the generations that compete, to the generations that come and visit the display throughout the holiday season, the feeling of joy is everywhere."

A panel of highly regarded judges evaluated each creation based on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme, with each entry required to be made of at least 75 percent gingerbread.

The 2018 panel of adjudicators 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.

In the spirit of the holidays, The Omni Grove Park Inn will be displaying all gingerbread designs through Thursday, Jan. 4, 2019 to visitors on a complimentary basis.

A $20 per car fee will be charged for all drive-in guests, with half of the parking proceeds going towards the following local nonprofit organizations: United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County; American Legion Baseball Post #70; Meals on Wheels of Asheville and Buncombe County; Asheville City Schools Foundation; Homeward Bound; Horizons at CDS; Buncombe Partnership for Children and Camp Watia Camper Scholarship Fund. 

The 2018 winning entries in the categories of adult, teen, youth and child include:

  • Grand Prize Winner, Adult: Julie and Michael Andreacola, Indian Trail, NC
  • Adult Second Place: Catherine Beddall, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Adult Third Place: Grier Rubeling, Cary, NC
  • Teen (13- to 17-year-olds) First Place: Courtland High School German Club, Spotsylvania, VA
  • Teen Second Place: Gabriella Arthur, Easley, SC
  • Teen Third Place: Chloe Jennings, Purlear, NC
  • Youth (9- to 12-year-olds) First Place: The Salty Sketeboarding Bears on Mars, Asheville, NC
  • Youth Second Place: Carly and Katie Owens, Taylorsville, NC
  • Youth Third Place: S’morals, Greenville, SC
  • Child (5- to 8-year-olds) First Place: Cabarrus Charter Kids, China Grove, NC
  • Child Second Place: David and Trenton Hodges, Asheville, NC
  • Child Third Place: Addison Bennett, Rutherfordton, NC

For more information or to make reservations, call -800-438-5800 or visit www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park.

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