Of the 103 gingerbread creations at the 23rd annual Gingerbread Contest in Belleville, the licorice-breathing dragon with spun sugar teeth and claws took the cake.
An awards ceremony announcing the winners of the contest was held Sunday afternoon at the Nichols Community Center. On Monday, the creations will start being moved from the auditorium at the center to the shop front windows in downtown Belleville in time for the Santa Parade on Friday.
The Gingerbread Dragon won Best of Show and a $1,000 cash award sponsored by Art on the Square. The beast, which sat on a treasure pile of hand-sculpted gingerbread men, was created in about a week by sisters Jennifer Morimoto and Jesse Bostick. The pair won best of show last year, too.
"We haven't gotten much sleep in the last week," Bostick said. All told, about 100 hours went into creating the winning gingerbread sculpture. Bostick is a culinary school graduate and a does sugar work, while her sister, Morimoto, is an artist. "We cut every little jelly bean with a razor. It was a lot of fun."
The dragon was inspired by a statue spotted at a restaurant the sisters dined at nearly a year ago, Bostick said.
Ann Davis, a member of the Gingerbread Contest committee, commended participants on their creativity while working with edible art supplies.
"You continue to amaze us with your creations," she said. "Your creativity amazes us every year and every year you think outside of the box to make your creations."
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert kicked off the awards ceremony by thanking all the participants and reminding them their creations will be seen by everyone who ventures downtown during the holiday season.
"We hope you had fun and we hope you make a family or group tradition of this," he said. "This program has really brought a lot of people downtown and into our stores. It's a big draw and we appreciate it and I know our store owners appreciate it, too."
The Santa Parade will be held at 10 a.m. Friday and begins at St. Mary's Catholic Church at 1706 W. Main St. in Belleville. At 6 p.m. Friday there will be Christmas caroling and the lighting of the decorations at the Public Square.