Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Girl Scouts earn top 10 recognition in gingerbread house competition

Erwin Girl Scout Troop 244, led by Tammy O’Hare and Gail Burnette, earned a top 10 finish in The National Gingerbread House Competition, hosted by The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, N.C.
The girls competed against around 40 other competitors in the child’s division.
Girl Scouts who worked on the project include Emalee Benard, Sady Davis, Mairead O’Hare, Olivia Rogers and Faith Tipton.
The girls, with a little instruction from local gingerbread expert Debbie Benard, mixed, measured and molded in a group effort to produce an exact replica of the Girl Scouts’ National Center in Savannah, Ga., to enter into the competition. The structure, which is a smaller and tastier scale of Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace, is completely edible. During their construction of the gingerbread house, the girls learned about Low and even read a book that detailed her history.
“Debbie really made all this happen,” Tammy said. “She was the one who stepped in and really taught the girls.”
However, the girls not only learned about Girl Scout history while working on the project, but they also learned several valuable life skills from the laborious project.
“They worked on it for five or six nights,” Tammy said. “The project taught them some wonderful qualities, like patience because they had to wait for parts (of the house) to dry before moving on. It also taught them teamwork and imagination. Only so many girls could work at once, so they worked in two teams. Also, restraint because they had such a desire to eat as we put it together.”
In addition, the Scouts learned how to take initiative, lead and work together.
“The Girl Scouts really emphasize girl-led projects,” Tammy said. “Even at their age, they’re encouraged to make the decisions.”
Tammy added that the girls also learned a song in sign language as they continued their studies of Low, who was deaf.
The process of making the house was long and daunting, yet fun for all involved. In fact, many of the girls had favorite moments while making the three-story gingerbread house. Olivia, for example, enjoyed the stories about Low, while Faith enjoyed putting the candy detail on the gingerbread house. However, Mairead enjoyed constructing the house and said she wants to enter the competition again next year.
“I liked putting the walls up,” Mairead said. “We had to have frosting to put them together.”
Emmalee, however, has an eye for detail.
“I like putting it all together and adding the details,” she said. “They were made out of candy. I didn’t sneak any candy unless she gave it to us.”
Each of the girls received individual certificates for their hard work, as well as gingerbread badges for their girl scout uniforms.
The house, which is on display at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa until Jan. 2, will be preserved and put on display at The Choo Choo Café in downtown Erwin.
Tammy said she is proud of the girls and didn’t realize exactly how “grandiose” the competition was until the girls entered.
“The house had to be 100 percent edible,” she said. “We weren’t allowed to use glue. The judges were all well-known. This is the first year we’ve ever entered, and I had no idea it was as grandiose as it was.”
In fact, the competition finds esteemed judges from across the nation to select the top gingerbread houses in the nation. This year’s judges included Cindy Cooper, editorial director for Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine; Carol Gable, producer from Dateline NBC; Gerry Hempel-Davis, author and lifestyle contributor for NBC’s Today Show; Nocholas Lodge, founder of the International School of Sugar & Confectionary Arts; Nadine Orenstein, curator of the Department of Drawings and Prints for the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Colette Peters, author and owner of New York’s specialty cake shop, Colette’s Cakes; Michelle Pullam, Food & Leisure coordinator for Southern Hospitality Magazine; Jane Robelot, former CBS news anchor in NYC and two-time National Emmy award winner; Mark Seaman, founder of Chicago’s boutique cake shop, Marked for Dessert and teacher at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and at the French Pastry School’s L’Art du Gateau; Erin Simpson, associate food editor for Better Homes and Gardens; Steven Stellingwerf, author and instructor of cake decorating and gingerbread; and Denny Trantham, executive chef at The Grove Park Inn.
The National Gingerbread House Competition, which started in 1993 with only a dozen entries, now has almost 400 entries each year from bakers across the nation.