Local 6-year-old places in Top 10 at National Gingerbread House Competition

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

COLUMBUS—On Tuesday, November 21, Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn held its annual National Gingerbread House Competition, where local 6-year-old Kaliana Riddlesworth of Columbus placed in the Top 10 in the 5 to 8-year-old age group. 

Kaliana and her mother Mikala first visited the competition on a friend’s recommendation several years ago. They enjoyed viewing the beautiful, handmade cookie houses so much that attending became a holiday tradition, and last year, they decided to enter.

“I’m not a baker,” said Mikala. “And I didn’t know what to expect. This is a pro-level competition where people spend months building their houses, and some are even flown in. We just wanted to have fun and knew it would be a great experience for us.”

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The competition had 200 entries from over 22 states, featuring contestants in adult, teen, youth and children categories, all competing for a chance to win more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

The rules require each house to be 75% gingerbread and 100% edible. The panel of judges rates each entry based on overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme. This year, the competition welcomed a new judge, celebrity cake artist Yolanda Gampp, who also is a judge on FOX’s Crime Scene Kitchen. 

The mother-daughter team entered last year’s competition using pre-made gingerbread, but they went all out this year and decided to bake their own. They chose the theme ‘farm life,’ since they live on a farm and have recently begun constructing a barn. But they quickly ran into a problem. Their barn kept collapsing no matter what the duo tried. 

They soon realized a different recipe designed for building was needed. Despite the setback, they decided to start again from scratch. 

This time it all came together. They used cookie cutters to make the animals and transparent frosting for a truck’s windshield, and were able to recreate the family’s barn. Then came the tricky part of transporting their creation to Asheville, which they were able to do while keeping it all in one piece. 

Mikala and Kali were a bit surprised when her name was announced in the Top 10. The announcer mispronounced Kaliana, so it took a minute to sink in. By the time it did, the audience had begun to applaud as Mikala carried Kaliana up to receive her ribbon.

“Our perseverance paid off,” said Mikala. “And we are already thinking about our theme for next year.”

Mikala highly recommends this event for families with kids. It has something for adults and kids with houses themed to Super Mario and Roblox, and a hot chocolate factory made entirely of gingerbread, she says.

The gingerbread houses will be displayed at the Omni Grove Park Inn throughout the holidays. 


Six-year-old Kaliana Riddlesworth of Columbus stands proudly by her gingerbread farmhouse, which placed in the Top 10 of the Children’s age group at the National Gingerbread House Competition held in Asheville. (Photo courtesy of Mikala Riddlesworth)