Updated Fri, Dec 6, 2013 11:55 am
The key to the perfect gingerbread structure is patience, says Nancy Mingus, winner of Athens’ inaugural holiday gingerbread-building contest. The winners were announced Wednesday night.
Mingus walked away with $600 after winning first-place in the professional category ($100) and then snagging the grand prize ($500) for the most accurate depiction of a county historic structure.
Mingus built a replica of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is located on the corner of Congress and Carpenter Streets.
Giving herself enough time to fully plan and piece together her project section-by-section was most important, she said.
“Patience is the key,” Mingus said. “For example, once I had the sides up, I would prop them up with soup cans and let them really dry for a long time, like 24 hours.”
That’s just one of the things she’s learned in her over 40 years of experience of building edible creations. While she hadn’t built a gingerbread structure for quite some time, Mingus does decorate cakes as a profession. She is a four-time Ohio State Fair grand champion in the cake decorating category. She’s also taught and judged cake decorating.
After learning about the contest by reading The Messenger, Mingus and her sister drove around Athens to find a structure to replicate.
“I’ve always loved the beautiful colors and the stain glass,” Mingus said of the church. “It thought it might be doable.”
Before baking a thing, she visited the church several times to take pictures. She then cut out her own pattern (a first for her) using cardboard. Seven pounds of fondant, three large batches of gingerbread and more than 100 hours of work later, she pieced together the most realistic gingerbread building of all the other submissions. It was complete with a bell made of pressed sugar and stained glass windows made of crushed candy.
“It was really fun,” Mingus said. “It was relaxing to me to see it come together. It really put me into the Christmas spirit.”
Below are all of the results and the locations of the entries, which will be displayed on Court Street until Jan. 4. First-place winners in each category won $100 and second-place winners received a gift basket from the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Emmy Thompson for Five Golden Rings, a replica of Cornwell Jewelers. This entry will be displayed in the window of Schoolkids.
First place — Sonya Ferrier for Enchanted Armory, a replica of the Athens Armory. This entry will be displayed in the window of the Athens County Commissioners Office.
Second place — Elise Bergmeier for her replica of White's Mill. This entry will be displayed in the window of Mountain Laurel Gifts.
First place — Cherie D'Mello for Whoville. This entry will be displayed in the window of The Other Place.
Second place — Lindsey Meili for The Silas Bingham House, a replica of the first house in Athens, now located next to the Convocation Center. This entry will be displayed in the window of the Hocking Valley Bank.
First place — Barbara Miller and her group for Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. This entry will be displayed in the window of Court Street Coffee.
Second place — Pam Wells of Gwen's Family for Rock House. This entry will be displayed in the window of Keith Chapman Jeweler.
Nancy Mingus for Mt. Zion Baptist Church. This entry will be displayed in the front window of Attractions.
•$500 grand prize (awarded to the top Athens County historical structure replica):
Nancy Mingus for the best replica of an Athens Historical Building, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
•Additional display locations:
The Kidwell Covered Bridge by The Athens Messenger group will be displayed in the window of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum.
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas-White's Mill by the Myers Family will be displayed in the window of the Athens County Board of Elections.
The Hobbit Hole will be displayed in the window of Little Professor Books.
All I Want for Christmas is a Front Row Seat-the Convocation Center will be displayed in the window at the College Book Store.