>Unquestionably the worst day to go to view the winners of the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC is the Saturday after Thanksgiving but with the whole family visiting us at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast it was now or not at all.
Gingerbread houses are a tradition in our family but our humble efforts (see picture on the left) are shamed by the examples put forth at the Grove Park! Hundred of entries from 20 states were judged in the 18th Annual National Gingerbread Contest with bakers of every age from 5 years old on up.
We started by viewing the youngest group, children ages 5-8. It’s kind of hard to believe the creations came from such youngsters. The large house on the right is a fantasy version of the Juliette Low House (Juliette Low for the uninitiated among you was the founder of the American Girl Scouts)
Entries must be primarily made of gingerbread and everything must be edible. Even lollipops must have their sticks removed. The ingenuity of some of the entries was amazing. Here in this tropical scene, the rooftops are made of shredded wheat. A favorite ingredient for trees was green popcorn (although this did show a regrettable tendency to fall off the trunk in some cases).
This Polynesian scene was one of the top ten entries in the “Youth” category, ages 9-12.
This whimsical water park is another top ten winner in the youth division.
No one knows exactly when the tradition started of making gingerbread into fanciful houses and sculptures. Some say it was the Grimms Brothers and their tale of Hansel and Gretel which gave birth to the concept. Others feel that the custom was already in place and the story reflected this.
Personally, I am a traditionalist and this house was my favorite. I loved all the detail, right down to the little gingerbread house on the coffee table.
If you would like to see some more pictures you can view them on the Carolina Bed & Breakfast Facebook page.
The houses will be displayed at the Grove Park Inn until January 2 and may be viewed by the public between the hours of 10AM and 10PM. Additional houses can be seen at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville.