• First place: Diane Calim
• Second place (tie): Michelle M. VanGrandt; Kristi Hankins
Ages 11 to 17:
• First place: Kelly and Connor Knez
• Second place: Janna Thompson
Ages 10 and younger:
• First place: Kathryn Haskins
• Second place: Christopher Cox
The sickly-sweet smell of gingerbread and frosting greeted visitors as they descended into the Museum of Northwest Colorado basement.
One by one, entrants in the 2008 Gingerbread House Contest toted their creations downstairs.
Friday marked the fifth year Craig's Downtown Business Association has put on the contest. This year, there were 17 entries. There were about 10 in 2007.
One element of the contest hasn't changed: the scent of gingerbread.
"(Last year,) you could definitely smell it when you walked in the museum," contest co-coordinator Kandee Dilldine said.
For Kelly and Connor Knez, 13 and 11, respectively, this year was their third try at honing their baking skills.
Perched atop the sloped roof, which was shingled with multicolored candies, was a frosted gingerbread bird.
The siblings had made a gingerbread birdhouse.
Why a birdhouse?
"I don't know," Kelly said. "Just something different."
Entrants were divided into three categories: adults, youths ages 11 to 17 and children 10 and younger. First- and second-place prizes of $50 and $25, respectively, awaited winners in each category.
But they had to meet some criteria before they could secure a sweet reward.
Most notably, all materials used had to be edible. That meant no lights and no structural supports that couldn't be devoured afterwards.
Still, local bakers found more than enough qualifying materials to adorn their entries.
Multicolored marshmallows, pretzel sticks, white-and-red-striped peppermints and other edibles added to the houses.
"Some (contestants) are using some different items to be creative with, that's for sure," said Joanne Roberson, a third-year gingerbread contest judge.
And Renee Engel, one of three contest judges, had a hard time choosing between two entries in the ages 11 to 17 category.
She pointed to Kelly and Connor's birdhouse.
"I thought this was very meticulously put together," she said. "But the (edible) trolls in this one," she added, waving a hand over a nearby gingerbread house, "it was just a nice use of materials. It was a hard choice between the two."
Ultimately, however, the Knez siblings' birdhouse ruled the roost. Their entry won first place in their category, followed by Janna Thompson in second place.
Contest entries will remain on display until Dec. 20 at the museum.