Neither rain nor bribes of fudge kept the judges from dutifully evaluating 27 holiday window displays in downtown Asheville on a chilly, rainy Wednesday, Nov. 18. Did we say “bribes”?
It’s true that Kilwin’s Chocolates enticed the six-member panel into the warm shop, where co-owner Marcy Gallagher offered each judge a fudge sample. But it was Kilwin’s creative display that had the evaluators abuzz: On a miniature ice rink sprinkled with blueish snow dust, photo cutouts of customers and staff skate and pose, all smiling. Look closely, and there’s Gallagher front and center, held high aloft like an Olympic figure skater.
When the votes were tallied later at Vincenzo’s, Kilwin’s had skated away with the prize, winning a little loose change as the judges’ favorite (winners of the three categories split a cash purse). Jack of the Wood won Most Creative for its traditional but humorous nod to Saint Nicholas and his counterpart, Krampus: Murals depicted each character, and a placard declared that if you followed the path of goodness and such, you’d find favor with Saint Nick. Take the path of greed, disrespect and all that … better watch out for Krampus.
Mast General Store won Best Use of Merchandise for it’s multi-window display of camping gear, old-fashioned games, wool sweaters and more.
But the judges applauded all the other displays, each with its own flare. The French Broad Food Co-Op displayed an epic battle between flying squirrels and an abominable snowman. Bloomin’ Art’s display was a rich and traditional tapestry of holiday decorations. WNC Magazine used cover pages to wrap gift boxes and string decorations. A wigged Snoopy and snowman seemed to hug each other at Kim’s Wigs. Delicate sparrows rested on the branches of Frock’s Christmas Tree, a package of Squirrel Underpants sported a Christmas bow at A Sense of Humor, and delicate yet oversized baubles dangled over a forest-like nest of grouse. (Or was that a partridge without its pear tree?). The yarn overflowed at Earthguild and in the hands of Adorn Salon’s rocking-chair grandma, Eagle Street Market featured cutouts of city and holiday scenes (as well as what the judges deemed a “live” display — the clerk’s youngest child getting the notion a pasted-on figure could be peeled off the window), and the huggable stuffed canines at Three Dog Bakery sported the appropriate holiday attire.
To see for yourself, the Asheville Downtown Association invites you to stroll the downtown streets with an eye for the quirky, the bright and the intriguing, such a Spirtex mannequin wearing green garland as a skirt.
The contest was sponsored by the Grove Park Inn and Spa, represented by judges Shawn Boone and Mark McConnell; other judges included J. Neal Jackson (Eagle Market Street), Margaret Williams (Mountain Xpress), Paige Littlejohn (Dixon Hughes CPAs and Advisors) and Bruce Steele (Asheville Citizen-Times).
— Margaret Williams