The nation’s largest Annual National Gingerbread House Competition™ returned for the 30th year to The Omni Grove Park Inn after introducing new specialty awards, a new judge, increased prizes, and more. Two hundred and nineteen gingerbread house entrants across Adult, Teen, Youth and Child categories were submitted for a chance to win a piece of more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, a 60 percent increase to years past.
The Omni Grove Park Inn introduced six new Specialty Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards, renamed in loving memory of former lead judge Chef Nicholas Lodge. Inspired from past entries and the creative elements that our competitors have introduced over the years, the Specialty Awards included “Best Use of Color,” “Best Use of Sprinkles,” “Most Unique Ingredient,” “Pop Culture Star,” “Most Innovative Structure,” and “Longest Standing Competitor.” Additionally, for the first time, 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.”
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 percent gingerbread and 100 percent edible. Judges featured Carla Hall, celebrity chef, author and TV personality; new judge Ashleigh Shanti, chef/owner of Good Hot Fish and 2020 James Beard finalist; lead judge Mark Seaman, culinary applications chef for Barry Callebaut; 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; Geoff Blount, pastry chef and teacher; John Cook, executive pastry chef at The Omni Grove Park Inn; Steven Stellingwerf, pastry chef, author and teacher; and Aaron Morgan, executive pastry chef at the Stable Café on The Biltmore Estate.
And the winners are …
The 2022 top three winning entries in the Adult, Teen, Youth and Child categories include:
Grand Prize Winner, Adult First Place: Ann Bailey, “When Dreams Have Wings” – Cary, NC
Adult Second Place: Beatriz Muller, “The Time of Christmas Past” – Cold Water, ON
Adult Third Place: Tiny Farm Bakers, “Merry Mountain Mayhem” – Montreat, NC
Teen (ages 13-17) First Place: Rhinehart Girls, “Fairy Tea House” – Columbia, TN
Teen Second Place: Courtland High School German Program, “Clara’s Dream” – Spotsylvania, VA
Teen Third Place: Lolajay, “A Merry ‘Type’ Of Christmas” – Asheville, NC
Youth (ages 9-12) First Place: Coble Adams, “Santa Yoda and His Baby Elves” – Raleigh, NC
Youth Second Place: Hailey Wesolek, “Christmas In The Treehouse” – Swanannoa, NC
Youth Third Place: Ella Frahler, “Workbench Of A Sewing Elf” – Greenville, SC
Child (ages 5-8) First Place: Maisy Frahler, “Christmas Morning Paper Dolls” – Greenville, SC
Child Second Place: Team Tinker, “The Christmas Chapel” – Lexington, KY
Child Third Place: Glitter Girls, “Mrs. Claus’ Fairies” – Toccoa, GA
The first-ever 2022 People’s Choice: Best in Show Award was given to:
People’s Choice: Best in Show Award: Jessica Frost, “Engine of America” – El Paso, TX
The 2022 winners across the six new Chef Nicholas Lodge Awards include:
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 2022 winner for the participant who traveled the furthest:
Furthest Traveled Competitor: Beatritz Mejia, “Santa Academy” Guatemala
Origins of the competition
The competition began with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members in 1992 and has grown to become one of the nation’s most competitive holiday events. Other ways to celebrate The 30th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition this year include:
- 2022 Gingerbread Display: In true holiday spirit, The Omni Grove Park Inn will display all gingerbread creations in-person throughout the resort from November 28, 2022 – January 2, 2023. All Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for registered resort guests and those that have confirmed dining reservations. Guests not staying at the resort are invited to view the display anytime Monday-Thursday and after 6 p.m. on Sundays, based on parking availability and excluding holidays and December 23-25, 30-31 and January 1. Display access is subject to hotel capacity, including pedestrian traffic.
- The Great Gingerbread House: The Great Hall at The Omni Grove Park Inn has once again introduced a life-sized gingerbread house modeled after the historic hotel, thousands of twinkly lights and over 80 illuminated trees throughout the resort. 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 fireplaces.
- Gingerbread Holiday Package: For stays from November 22 – December 30, 2022, the property welcomes gingerbread lovers to indulge in its Gingerbread Holiday Package which includes a holiday gingerbread cookie, deluxe accommodations, daily breakfast at The Blue Ridge farm-to-table artisanal buffet restaurant, and overnight valet or garage parking.
- 12 Days of Gingerbread: Providing a virtual alternative, the hotel will continue “The 12 Days of Gingerbread” by presenting one of the Top 12 finalists, per day, on the hotel’s Facebook (@omnigroveparkinn) and Instagram (@omnigrovepark) from December 1 – 12, 2022 to spark Ginger-innovation during the holidays.
- Holiday Parking Program: During the Fall & Holiday season, a $25 per car self-park fee will be charged for drive-on day guests with a portion of the parking proceeds donated to the community in support of 15 local nonprofit organizations in Western North Carolina. Since the program’s inception in 2013, the hotel has contributed more than $680,000 to local charitable partners. The list of 2022 Fall & Holiday Parking Partners can be found here.
For more information on The Omni Grove Park Inn, call (800) 438-5800 or visit omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park. For more information on The 30th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition™, call (800) 413-5778 or visit omnihotels.com/gingerbread.