Book titles will come to life  in edible forms

Posted: March 19, 2013

The Winchester Star

Elizabeth Bange won the overall best in show last year at the Edible Books Festival children’s division. This year’s festival will be held April 3 and 5 at Handley Library.

Winchester — Cliches are not a problem when it comes to Handley Regional Library’s Edible Books Festival.

The contest that asks people to re-create book titles using food items has drawn all kinds of entries in the last two years, director Trish Ridgeway said. People responded with literal interpretations, play on words, jokes and her favorite, puns.

“Puns are encouraged. Everybody has fun with puns,” she said.

For the festival’s third year, Ridgeway hopes people will continue to unleash their creative powers as they bring the written word alive in cake, icing, candy, breads, vegetables and other edible materials. The contest is a great opportunity for people to express their creative side even if they are not usually artistic, she said.

The entry fee is $5 for the children’s category and $25 for the adults, Ridgeway said. Entrants in the adult contest receive half-off entry to the adult event.

A free children’s event will showcase all the youth entries at 5 p.m. April 3 at the library. The adult event, which costs $50 to attend, will begin at 7 p.m. April 5.

The event was inspired by the International Edible Book Festival, which takes place on or around April 1, Ridgeway said. Organizers of the local event try to schedule it close to April 1 but keep the adult event on a Friday night.

Participants may submit entries in four categories: children 5 to 10 and 11 to 16, and adult amateur and adult professional.

No cash prizes are awarded, but the winners will receive a medal. All participants receive a ribbon award and a book.

Two-time competitor Dana White, 15, of Frederick County was the 2011 youth overall winner, which meant her entry was submitted for the adult competition as well.

For her entries, she likes to go with books by Brenda Seabrooke, who has “some really cute and creative books” that are simple to work with, said Dana, the daughter of Jean and Chip White. Her winning entry represented Seabrooke’s “Cemetery Street,” using a dark chocolate cake as a base and black icing and candy to set the scene.

Although she hasn’t thought of a book yet, Dana intends to enter the competition again this year because she likes that it encourages people to come up with new and different ideas, she said.

“I look around for titles that might be good to make into a cake or something that could be guessed,” said Dana, a freshman at James Wood High School. “Then I try to figure out what I could do with that.”

Neither Jennifer Sutter of Frederick County nor her daughter, Meghan, 11, are sure what they will enter this year in their categories. Sutter, youth services librarian, won the adult competition’s People’s Choice Award last year for her entry, “Sleepy Hollow Sleepover.”

She associated the word hollow with hala bread, so she drew sleeping faces on two hala loaves and tucked them up in bed.

Even though she enters the adult category, Sutter said she likes to use books in the youth section for inspiration and loves to see what other people use for inspiration.

“I love that it combines literature with creativity and gets people excited about books,” she said. “I love to see all the different interpretations.”

Meghan’s entries in the children’s division the last two years used the book titles “Cat in the Hat” and “Goodnight Moon,” her mom said. For “Goodnight Moon,” she created a dome out of rice crispy treats, covered it with fondant, and made a blanket out of rolled out Starburst candy.

The children’s event takes place in the children’s room on the second floor, Sutter said. Entries can be brought to the library between 1 and 4 p.m. April 3.

When the party starts at 5 p.m., people can look at the different entries and eat light refreshments. While judges are choosing the winners, a librarian will read several stories.

Adult submissions can be dropped at the library from noon to 5 p.m. April 5 in time for the party later that night.

The evening celebrating the adult competition will include wine and savory appetizers upstairs while people look at the entries. They will receive a ticket to vote on their favorite entry, which goes toward the People’s Choice Award.

Halfway through the evening, everyone heads downstairs, for dessert and a game of charades where they are shown photographs of entries in similar contests and have to guess the book titles.

The festival, which last year raised about $3,000, benefits the library’s operating costs. The money is raised through contest entry fees, ticket sales and a silent auction featuring the professional entries, Ridgeway said.

The library asks people to register in advance for the contest, she said. Participants can pay the fee online with a credit card or by cash or check in person.

Rules and entry forms are available at the three Handley Regional locations — the Handley, Bowman and Clarke County libraries — and online at


For more information, contact 540-662-9041, ext. 28, or or go to

— Contact Laura McFarland at