Check out the incredible gingerbread houses created at this year's national competition

Each year, competitors at the National Gingerbread House Competition bring the idea of playing with your food to a whole new level.

Gingerbread enthusiasts and creative types from all over North America come together in Asheville, NC to show off their skills.

Over the last 26 years, the eye-popping pieces have become a symbol, marking the beginning of the holiday season.

A panel of judges evaluates every creation based on originality/creativity, difficulty, overall appearance, precision, and consistency of theme.

To make it especially fun, each entry is required to be comprised of at least 75 percent gingerbread.

Since 2013, The National Gingerbread Competition started a holiday parking program which has raised more than $340,000 for local nonprofit organizations.

The 2018 winning entries in the categories of adult, teen, youth and child include:
Grand Prize Winner, Adult:
Julie and Michael Andreacola, Indian Trail, NC
Adult Second Place:
Catherine Beddall, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Adult Third Place:

Grier Rubeling, Cary, NC
Teen (13- to 17-year-olds) First Place:
Courtland High School German Club, Spotsylvania, VA
Teen Second Place:
Gabriella Arthur, Easley, SC
Teen Third Place:
Chloe Jennings, Purlear, NC
Youth (9- to 12-year-olds) First Place:
The Salty Sketeboarding Bears on Mars, Asheville, NC
Youth Second Place:

Carly and Katie Owens, Taylorsville, NC
Youth Third Place:
S'morals, Greenville, SC
Child (5- to 8-year-olds) First Place:
Cabarrus Charter Kids, China Grove, NC
Child Second Place:
David and Trenton Hodges, Asheville, NC
Child Third Place:
Addison Bennett, Rutherfordton, NC
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