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Tribute to Athena’s 100th takes top honors in gingerbread decorating contest (PHOTOS)


Employees from throughout the Athens Campus put their culinary and creative skills to the test – and showcased their holiday spirit – during the ninth annual Ohio University Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.

Sponsored by Ohio University Culinary Services, 10 teams participated in the annual winter break tradition, which was held Dec. 15 in the Maggie Davis and West 82 seating area at Baker University Center. 

This year’s contest included both new and returning teams whose confectionery creations featured everything from images of Ohio University’s Athens Campus and tributes to pop culture icons to initiatives and themes near and dear to the teams themselves.

After seven hours of building and, in some cases, rebuilding, a crowd gathered in the Maggie Davis Dining Room where First Lady Deborah McDavis announced the winners.

First-place honors went to a team from University Communications and Marketing (UCM) whose entry paid tribute to the Athena Cinema and its 100th anniversary. Coming in second place was a team from OHIO’s Office of Global Opportunities and its very detailed “World on Wheels Global Food Truck” creation. Third place was awarded to a team from the Graduate College who created “Bobcat Land,” an OHIO-themed version of “Candy Land.”

This year’s People’s Choice Award was presented to the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty and staff from the college and two of its themes, Food Studies and Wealth and Poverty, created two companion gingerbread entries, each highlighting the theme “Feeding Athens.” One of the entries showcased the plant biology’s learning gardens while the other paid tribute to the Athens Foundation’s annual Bounty on the Bricks fundraiser, which benefits the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank. The Wealth and Poverty theme held its annual Fall Food Drive final collection during the contest, further highlighting the team’s “Feeding Athens” concept.

Contest judges evaluated each entry based on its creativity, complexity and edibility with the top three teams receiving gift certificates for two large, one-topping, brick-oven pizzas from West 82 Food Court. 

Here are some highlights from this year’s competition:

Nine staff members at University Communications and Marketing (UCM) pitched in to help create this gingerbread entry.

Nine staff members at University Communications and Marketing (UCM) pitched in to help create this gingerbread entry, which earned first place at the Ohio University Gingerbread House Decorating Contest. UCM’s entry paid tribute to the Athena Cinema’s 100th anniversary while also highlighting (via the theater’s marquee) Tumbles, a local puppy that has generated hundreds of headlines across the globe in the past month. Born without front legs, Tumbles is now a viral celebrity after a two-wheeled cart was created for the pup using the 3D printer at OHIO’s Innovation Center.

OHIO’s Office of Global Opportunities took second place in the contest with its “World on Wheels Global Food Truck” entry.

OHIO’s Office of Global Opportunities took second place in the contest with its “World on Wheels Global Food Truck” entry. The entry featured a food truck, staffed by gingerbread people serving up both traditional American and international cuisine to patrons of various ethnicities. Among the menu items were burgers, sushi, paella, falafel, tacos and Chinese dumplings.

The Graduate College’s version of “Candy Land,” appropriately named “Bobcat Land,” placed third in the contest.

The Graduate College’s version of “Candy Land,” appropriately named “Bobcat Land,” placed third in the contest. The entry featured everything from the Alumni Gateway, Emeriti Park and the graffiti wall to Peden Stadium and the Convocation Center, with many of the buildings and landmarks assigned candy-themed names.

Stevi Miller, Kristi Conrad and Janice Bailey-Magill construct one of the College of Arts and Sciences’ entries in this year’s Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.

(From left) Stevi Miller, Kristi Conrad and Janice Bailey-Magill construct one of the College of Arts and Sciences’ entries in this year’s Gingerbread House Decorating Contest. Photo by Ben Siegel

The College of Arts and Sciences took fourth place as well as the coveted People’s Choice Award in this year’s contest.

The College of Arts and Sciences took fourth place as well as the coveted People’s Choice Award in this year’s contest with these two companion creations that celebrate the theme “Feeding Athens.” On the left is an edible creation that showcases plant biology’s learning gardens and was made with actual vegetable and other greens. On the right is an edible version of the annual Bounty on the Bricks fundraiser, featuring Court Street mainstays that include the College Bookstore, the Athena Cinema and the Athens County Courthouse.

A team from the Patton College of Education took fifth place with this tribute to Peanuts and a holiday favorite, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

A team from the Patton College of Education took fifth place with this tribute to Peanuts and a holiday favorite, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Dana Wright and Samantha Goble work on the Department of Housing and Residence Life’s gingerbread entry.

Dana Wright (left) and Samantha Goble work on the Department of Housing and Residence Life’s gingerbread entry, which showcased the brick relief sculpture that was installed on South Green this past summer as part of the construction of Phase I of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan.  Photo by Ben Siegel

University College and Learning Communities staff members Wendy Merb-Brown, Sandy Smith, Lisa Kamody and Kris Kumfer construct a “Healthy OHIO” gingerbread creation.

University College and Learning Communities staff members Wendy Merb-Brown, Sandy Smith, Lisa Kamody and Kris Kumfer construct a “Healthy OHIO” gingerbread creation, complete with cucumber trees and broccoli bushes. Photo by Ben Siegel

A team from OHIO’s Office of Global Affairs and International Studies create gingerbread structures based on types of houses found around the world.

A team from OHIO’s Office of Global Affairs and International Studies creates gingerbread structures based on types of houses found around the world.

Some of the members of UCM’s Gingerbread House Decorating Contest team pose for a photo with their winning creation.

Some of the members of UCM’s Gingerbread House Decorating Contest team pose for a photo with their winning creation. This was the first time since 2010 that UCM had a team compete in the contest.

Additional photos from this year’s contest are available on Culinary Services’ Facebook page