It took four days out of her Thanksgiving holiday, but in the end Donna Rorabaugh of Rochester Hills, Mich., came away with the $500 first prize for her winning creation in this year's gingerbread house competition at Marietta's Lafayette Hotel.
"My sister called Saturday to tell me I had won. I thought it was a very Christmassy piece-and everything is completely edible," Rorabaugh said of her gingerbread-and-candy-cane carousel, with reindeer instead of horses prancing around a cake with chocolate icing.
"It takes a lot of planning before I can begin putting it together-and I worked on it while we were visiting family in Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving," she said.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Harold and Kandy Close of Dover, Ohio, checked out some of the winning displays in this year’s gingerbread house competition at the Lafayette Hotel Sunday afternoon.
This wasn't the first time she had won in the competition that has been sponsored annually by the Lafayette Hotel for the last 13 years.
"I also won the first year I entered in the adult category," Rorabaugh said. "But I really like competing there. They have excellent display cases, and the people are so friendly."
The carousel is among 37 gingerbread creations that will be on display at the Lafayette Hotel on Front Street through New Year's Day, according to Sheila Rhodes, the hotel's general manager.
The winners in this year's gingerbread house competition at the Lafayette Hotel.
First place: Christmas carousel by Donna Rorabaugh, Rochester Hills, Mich.
Second place: Church by Sue Evans, Centerville, Ohio.
Third place: Fairy treasure house by Rebecca Worstell, Marietta.
Youth 11-15 years:
First place: Harry Potter castle by Katy Barrett, Beaver, Pa.
Second place: Castle by Marietta Christian School, Marietta.
Third place: Santa workshop by Liam McIntosh, Coolville.
Youth age 10 and under:
First place: Dr. Seuss home by Grace Barrett, Beaver, Pa.
Second place: The candy express by Lexie Mullen of Marietta.
Third place: Christmas village by Girl Scout Troop 5997 of Marietta.
Creators of the sweet structures were awarded first, second and third place cash prizes in three categories during a Victorian Tea held at the Lafayette Saturday.
First place prize was $500 in the adult division competition, second place took $250, and third place $100.
There were two youth division categories, one for ages 11 to 15, and another for children 10 and under. Both youth divisions carried a first place cash prize of $100, followed by a $50 second and $25 third place prize.
But Rhodes said entries for the gingerbread competition have been falling off over the last few years.
"It seems to be dwindling some every year," she said. "When we started 13 years ago we had about 70 entries. But this year it's in the 30s, and we had to combine some categories in order to get first, second and third place winners."
Rhodes said after prizes were awarded Saturday she initially announced the competition would not be held next year due to a lack of participation.
"But then several people told me they didn't want to see that happen and volunteered to do whatever they could to keep the event going," she said. "So we're going to give it another go next year."
That's good news to Susan Evans of Centerville whose white-icing cathedral took second place in the competition. She has entered the contest six times now and took first place two years ago.
"The church this year was roughly based on one located in Budapest," Evans said. "It took about four or five weeks to complete with 39 pieces of gingerbread glued together with chocolate and icing. And everything but the board it's mounted on is edible.
"I'm a cake decorator, and I really enjoy doing this," she said. "I would definitely consider entering again next year."
But Rhodes said the competition's future will hinge on an increase in the number of participants in 2012.
"It's just a nice tradition during the Christmas season that brings people downtown to shop, and many families like to look at these artistic displays," she said. "It's something everybody enjoys, and we would love to keep it going."