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Smith Mansion first annual cookie bake-off a success

Music and laughter filled the air as several hundred people visited the Smith Mansion on Dec. 13 for the first annual Chef Art Smith Christmas Cookie Bake-Off and Reception. Art Smith purchased the mansion in September of this year from North Florida Community College and invited the community to tour the grand home and participate in the cookie bake-off. Many community members worked diligently to help Chef Art prepare for the event, and 95 cookie entries were submitted. The outside of the mansion was tastefully decorated by locals including Jackie Johnson, Ethel and Bailey Barefoot and Gayle Walker. Inside the home, special holiday arrangements were crafted by Mary Kay Blume and assisting in the decorating were Margaret Ann Bunch, Ina Thompson, and Julie, Claire and Catherine Maultsby. Some of these ladies served as hostesses for the event along with Florida Smith and Denise Bell. Jessica Webb and Margaret Ann Bunch coordinated the day’s activities which included a visit with Santa (thanks to Santa’s helper Jim Carey), horse and buggy rides compliments of Corky Brandies, music by the Madison Academy Students under the direction of Jay Hicks and Janna Barrs and piano selections by Helen McCain, Sally Johnson, Patricia Shartran and Courtney Wilder. NFCC President John Grosskopf presented the key to the mansion and welcomed Chef Art to the community. Four judges tasted cookies for hours and had a tough time selecting one winner in the teen/adult and categories. In the end, they selected a top winner for each and awarded several honorable mention prizes. Chef Art Smith gave a $500 cash prize to the top winner and the honorable mention winners each received autographed copies of one of the chef’s cookbooks, along with an array of baking utensils. The top winner in the youth category was Catherine Maultsby for her peppermint bark cookie. Honorable mention youth winners were Dmitrey Davis, Jayden Fulmer, Jasper Jones and Raeley Parker. Top prize in the teen/adult category was awarded to Robbie Griffin. Honorable mention awards were given to Cybill Aldridge, Claire Maultsby and Theresa . Chef Art plans to make this an annual event with more activities and bigger prizes for the bake-off. “I’m so happy to see how many people came out to see the mansion, and I was thrilled with the number of entries in the cookie bake-off,” said Smith. “There were many delicious cookies submitted, and it was hard to narrow down to just a few winners. To me, everyone who submitted was a winner.”

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