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National Gingerbread House Competition Crowns First-Time Grand Prize Champion

Christina Banner from Newland, NC, has been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2004 National Gingerbread House Competition at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, NC. A field of eight judges deliberated for almost four hours on Monday night to determine the winners among three categories: Adult, Teen 13-17, and Youth 12 and under. Nearly 300 spectators watched the judging process in the resort’s Grand Ballroom. Banner's championship entry is pictured on the righ.

Bobbie Jinright and Betsy Leigner from Troy, AL won first-place in the adult division.

Other first-place winners included the sister trio of Sarah, Hannah, and Chloe Engel from Bryson City, NC, in the Teen 13-17 year old age group, and Angelique Arthur from Easley, SC, in the Youth 12 and under category. A record total of 225 contestants from 19 states participated in the 12th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition.

As always, judging the creative creations was difficult and the proof was in the judge’s final scorecards. Banner won the grand prize by a mere five points and only 16 points separated Banner from the fifth place adult category entry.

“I can’t believe I actually won,” said Banner, who finally won the Grand Prize in her sixth visit to the National Gingerbread House Competition. Banner’s previous best finish was second place in 1999. This is the fifth time she has finished in the top five in her annual visits to The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa for this national event.

As the Grand Prize winner, she wins $1,000, plus a Romance Package including two nights’ accommodations, dinner, daily breakfast, champagne, and flowers.

All of the gingerbread houses will remain on display throughout the holidays. The National Gingerbread House Display is being staged on the 7th floor of the Vanderbilt Atrium till January 10, 2005. The display is open to the public.

In some circles, it’s not too early to get started for next year’s competition. The 13th annual event is set for Monday, November 8, 2005. For more information about The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, please visit

Banner’s winning entry and other winners can be seen nationally as the resort will be making its seventh straight holiday appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” during Christmas week.

Eight judges had the very tough job of determining this year’s winning entries. Judges included Aaron Morgan, GPI Executive Pastry Chef; Chef Nick Lodge, founder, The International Sugar Art Collection; Nadine Orenstein, curator, Department of Arts and Drawings, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Kristina Abernathy, On-Air Meteorologist, The Weather Channel; Gerri Davis, travel writer and author; Tanner Latham, Southern Living; Kathleen Purvis, Food Editor, The Charlotte Observer, and Jill Cordes, host of “The Best of” on Food Network.

A complete listing of the 2004 National Gingerbread House Competition winners follows:


Grand Prize - Christina Banner, Newland, NC
1st Place - Bobbie Jinright & Betsy Leigner, Troy, AL
2nd Place - Deni Cole, Weaverville, NC
3rd Place - Trish McCallister, Spartanburg, SC
4th Place - Valarie Enters, Sanford, FL
5th Place - Eric Blove & Beth Luce, East Flat Rock, NC

TEEN 13-17

1st Place - Sarah, Hannah & Chloe Engel, Bryson City, NC
2nd Place - Joey Summer, Gainesville, GA
3rd Place - Julie Sarten, Lenoir City, TN
4th Place - Kate Mize, Halifax, VA


1st Place - Angelique Arthur, Easley, SC
2nd Place - Riley & Ashley Tench, Durham, NC
3rd Place - Upper Enrichment Class, Petersburg, NJ
4th Place - Patterson & Peyton Young, Weaverville, NC

Photos of some of the winners can be found below.

First place adult winner (Champion shown in top photo,)

Second place adult winner

Third place adult winner

Fourth place adult winner

First place teen winner

Second place teen winner

Third place teen winner

Fourth place teen winner

The gingerbread houses, a very popular element in The Grove Park Inn’s famously opulent holiday decorations, will be on display to the public through January 17, 2005.

(Images provided by the Grove Park Inn)

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