The 29th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition returned in person at The Omni Grove Park Inn after a virtual 2020, making this the first time in two years Gingerbread artists, of all ages and backgrounds, came together to showcase their one-of-a-kind creations.
More than 120 entries of over-the-top Gingerbread designs – across all categories – were submitted from around the country, for an opportunity to win a piece of $25,000 in cash and prizes.
A star-studded panel of judges, consisting of renowned food, arts and media professionals, evaluated each creation based on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme, with each entry required to be 75 percent Gingerbread and 100 percent edible.
The 2021 panel featured Carla Hall, celebrity chef, author and TV personality; Nadine Orenstein, curator of the department of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cheryl Forberg, James Beard Award-winning chef and dietitian; Mark Seaman, the culinary applications chef for Barry Callebaut; Geoff Blount, chef, program chair of baking & pastry arts at ICI of Myrtle Beach; John Cook, executive pastry chef at The Omni Grove Park Inn; Steven Stellingwerf, pastry chef, author and teacher; Aaron Morgan, executive pastry chef at the Stable Café on The Biltmore Estate; and lead judge, Nicholas Lodge, the author of over one dozen sugar art books and instructional DVDs; and many others.
The 2021 winning entries in the categories of adult, teen, youth and child include:
Grand Prize Winner, Adult: The Merry Mischief Bakers, “Christmas ‘Round the World” – Phoenix, AZ
Adult Second Place: Grier Rubeling, “Gingerbread Nutcrackers” – Cary, NC
Adult Third Place: Bill & Cheryl Filion, “A Spin on Christmas” – Medina, OH
Teen (ages 13-17) First Place: Courtland High German Program, “Elves After Hours” – Spotsylvania, VA
Teen Second Place: Emma Rhinehart, “Santa’s Study” – Columbia, TN
Teen Third Place: Abigail Woerner, “Holly Jolly Christmas” – Concord, NC
Youth (ages 9-12) First Place: Lolajay Wilson, “Picture Perfect Holiday” – Asheville, NC
Youth Second Place: Emmalyn Frost, “Upside Christmas” – Knoxville, TN
Youth Third Place: Alana Armenti, “Winter Wonder Wheel” – Simpsonville, SC
Child (ages 5-8) First Place: Parker Webster, “Zoom with Santa” – Greenville, SC
Child Second Place: Glitter Girls, “Santa & Friends Christmas Pets” – Blue Ridge, GA
Child Third Place: BMP Smart Cookies, “December 26th” Black Mountain, NC
While the Competition returned to an in-person format for 2021, the hotel has maintained a virtual component for everyone to enjoy the Gingerbread masterpieces. See how to get involved below.
Fans At-Home Can Tune-in Virtually:
- 12 Days of Gingerbread: A new way of celebrating The National Gingerbread House Competition winners for all to enjoy. From Dec. 1- 12, one winner per day will be announced, via social media, with the Grand Prize Winner being revealed on Dec. 12 (National Gingerbread House Day!). Tune in via Facebook (@omnigroveparkinn) & Instagram (@omnigrovepark).
Ways to See Gingerbread Creations In Person:
- Gingerbread Display: In true holiday spirit, The Omni Grove Park Inn will be displaying all Gingerbread creations from Nov. 28 through Jan. 2, 2022 after 3 p.m. on Sundays and anytime Monday – Thursday to drive-on visitors. The display is open to in-house guests 24/7. A $25 per car self-park fee will be charged for drive-on, day guests with a portion 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; Horizons at CDS; Children First/Communities in Schools; Asheville Museum of Science and Camp Watia Camper Scholarship Fund. Since 2013, The Omni Grove Park Inn has contributed over $575,000 through the Holiday Parking Program, supporting the local community and not-for-profit partners in Western North Carolina.
- The Great Gingerbread House: The Great Hall at The Omni Grove Park Inn has been transformed into a holiday destination, with a life-sized Gingerbread House modeled after the historic hotel. Guests can enjoy house made hot chocolate, a specialty craft brew in partnership with Highland Brewing, and sweet treats by the glow of the iconic Grove Park Inn fireplaces.
Travelers interested in viewing the show-stopping holiday designs and planning a festive retreat can book the Gingerbread Holiday Package for stays through Sunday, Dec. 30. The package includes luxurious accommodations, the breakfast buffet in the Blue Ridge Restaurant per registered guest, one Gingerbread cookie per registered guest and overnight valet or self-parking (one vehicle per room). Guests can also pay it forward this season via Omni Hotels & Resorts’ Say Goodnight to Hunger program, which includes a donation to MANNA FoodBank for every stay at the resort.
To reach the Gingerbread Hotline for the latest on all things Gingerbread, call (800) 413-5778. To view images of the complete list of winning Gingerbread displays, visit here. Images of winning entries from last year’s competition are available here.
For more information or to make reservations, call (800) 438-5800 or visit www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park.
Prepared by Omni Grove Park Inn.