Hi, all! If you’ve been keeping an eye on the schedule for the 2022 virtual edition of Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™, you’ve probably been waiting with bated breath for the finalist reveal originally slated for today, November 18. If so, read on, as I have an important update for you related to the determination and announcement of winners.

One aspect of the competition that turned out to be very different this year (in a great way!) is that the field of entrants was incredibly geographically diverse. We had entrants from Malaysia, Ukraine, China, USA, Canada, Iran, Japan, Italy . . . you name it. I am elated that this competition touched so many in so many parts of the world. It was also a real thrill to see how this cultural diversity impacted your various theme interpretations and use of techniques. The judges were indeed fascinated, inspired, and impressed, so congrats again to all who entered!

Now, for that important update: It is because of this increased diversity that the judges and I took the liberty this year of realigning the way we award prizes. First, I’ll explain how we’ve decided to realign that process and then why.

How We’ve Realigned

We evaluated each entry as we always do against several objective criteria, as explained in the Competition Overview (i.e., 70 total points possible for 2-D entries, and 90 points for 3-D). None of the judging criteria nor anything about how we review entries changed. However, rather than awarding a single first, second, and third prize in each of the four categories, we decided to award multiple gold, silver, and bronze prizes. Golds will be awarded to any entrants who achieved 91% or more of the total possible points in their category; silvers to those scoring 81% to 90%; and bronzes to those scoring 71% to 80%. What this realignment means is that we might have more than one bronze, silver, or gold award winner in each category; conversely, we might have none in some categories. It also means we will not have a finalist announcement as planned for today; instead, we will go straight to an announcement of bronze, silver, and gold winners on November 30.

Why Did We Do This?

We made this change primarily for two reasons. First, with the entry pool as diverse as it was, it was an opportune time to better align our awarding process with the processes used in other international competitions, namely That Takes the Cake Show where this competition will return in person next year. They use a very similar method, as does the world’s largest show, Cake International. One advantage of moving toward a universal awarding standard is that entrants can more easily and directly compare their own personal performance from show to show, and, thus, set more meaningful goals for themselves for the next show. Second, this change is in greater alignment with this competition’s philosophy of competing. I’ve always said that this competition isn’t about whether you win or lose, or how you stack up against other entrants; it’s about how you challenged yourself and expanded your own skills along the way. By not awarding single first, second, and third prizes, we minimize head-to-head comparisons (which can sometimes be unconstructive) and allow more people to shine for having pushed their own personal boundaries. I am very excited about this new direction – I believe it will encourage more learning and growth and greater clarity of expectations from one competition to the next.

Having said all of this, we may very well fine-tune the awarding process again in advance of next year’s competition, as we are always striving to make our process as fair, educational, and fun as possible. We are already moving in a great direction with this change, and I believe you will feel the same way when you see the grand winner reveal on November 30! Stay tuned! I assure you, the unveiling will be well worth the wait.

If you have any questions about this update, please leave them in the comments below, and I will address them as soon as I can. Thank you!