This edible replica of the Research and Technology Center won the sixth annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.

Photographer: Benjamin Wirtz Siegel


Members of the OHIO Education Abroad team assemble the Mayan pyramid at the center of their entry. It won third place.

Photographer: Benjamin Wirtz Siegel

Learning Communities

University College Learning Communities showed its move to the former Woolworth building in its second-place entry.

Photographer: Benjamin Wirtz Siegel

Featured Stories

Gingerbread contest has a new winner

Like a house afire

The streak is broken.

Team RTEC, from Graduate College and the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, won the sixth annual Ohio University Gingerbread House Decorating Contest on Tuesday, ending a three-year reign by Environmental Studies.

Second place went to University College Learning Communities for their depiction of their move into the old Woolworth building at 1 S. Court St. OHIO Education Abroad (OEA) took third place with a Mayan pyramid scene wishing onlookers “Feliz Navidad.”

A total of 10 teams entered the contest, including Environmental Studies, Development, University College, Academic Resources, Disability Services, and faculty, staff, administrators and community members of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The annual contest is judged by management staff of Culinary Services, which sponsors the event. The judges base their decisions on creativity, complexity and edibility.

Team RTEC swept the top awards, winning not only the judges’ top nod but also the People’s Choice Award. This was team RTEC’s first attempt at the contest, which should please Joseph Shields, vice president for research and dean of Graduate College.

"He challenged us to win," said David Koonce, interim associate dean of Graduate College.

Their entry was a challenge in itself: A detailed replica of the Research and Technology Center with its roof in flames. The entry was dedicated to Athens’ first responders, whose speedy work confined an early morning fire on Nov. 30 to the Research and Technology building’s roof and prevented further damage.

“We had no idea what we were getting into,” laughed Katherine Tadlock, director of Graduate Student Services. “We overplanned—we met for hours, we diagrammed and measured, we even looked up the dimensions of Rice Krispie squares and graham crackers.”

“Our dry erase board looked like Sheldon Cooper (of TV’s “Big Bang Theory”) had written all over it,” added team leader Sarah Kaplan, interim operations assistant with Graduate College.

In addition to Kaplan and Tadlock, team members were Koonce, Lois Hatfield, interim assistant to the budget manager, and Roxanne Malé-Brune, director of grant development and projects.

While the team’s entry met the all-edible requirement, kids might have been surprised—and disappointed—to find the roof made of seaweed sheets and trees of molded parcooked spaghetti. (At least the trees were dipped in chocolate). But kids of all ages marveled at the fire truck topped with maraschino cherry lights; a ladder fashioned from breadsticks, Pocky sticks and white chocolate; and red-and-orange candy flames shooting from the roof, complete with dry-ice “smoke.”

The scene was alive with detail, such as caramel window air-conditioning units, a pretzel-and-Life Saver emergency broadcast tower on the roof and even a trio of sugar-gum squirrels capering around the scene.

While the RTEC entry was spectacular, the others were sights to see as well. The Gifts R Us team from Development made a replica of Galbreath Chapel with white-frosted columns wrapped in garlands of red shoelaces and a steeple made of an ice-cream cone dipped in white chocolate. The University College Misfits’ “Elves on Holiday” entry had air bubbles below its candy ice-skating pond, just like a real one would.

Increasingly creative entries and a debut winner are examples of the contest’s growing popularity, said Dan Pittman, assistant director of Auxiliary Sales.

“Every year, we see new teams being formed and the contest entries becoming more elaborate,” Pittman said. “It’s obvious that each team puts a lot of time, effort and pride into their creation, and it’s exciting to see their early concepts and ideas become reality.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding presented each of the top three teams with gift certificates for two large pizzas from Culinary Services’ West 82 Food Court. Every team received a reward for participating.

Many of the entries will be on view in the Maggie Davis room in the West 82 seating area on the first floor of Baker University Center until Friday.

Top Three Finishers

First Place and People’s Choice: Graduate College and the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity
Sarah Kaplan. Katherine Tadlock, David Koonce, Lois Hatfield and Roxanne Malé-Brune

Second Place: University College Learning Communities
Wendy Merb-Brown, Sandy Smith, Wendy Rogers, Kris Kumfer, Lisa Kamody and Laney Preston

Third Place: OHIO Education Abroad (OEA)
Catherine Marshall, Lori Lammert, Cat Cutcher, Janice Bailey-Magill, Laurence Tuccori, Keely Davin, Lori Collins and Gail Houlette