This April Fools Day, libraries around the world from New Zealand to Romania to Tacoma will celebrate all that is good about two very important things that many of us simply cannot live without: good food and a good book. Throw in a few puns, and you’ll have this year’s International Edible Book Festival.
Since 2007, University of Puget Sound has celebrated the day with a showcase of edible entries that are both creative and often creepy. Participants choose a book and create a scene or display that represents the story, using edible ingredients only. The rules are simple, but the competition is fierce for the awards, given in a variety of categories ranging from People’s Choice to Most Humorous, Most Delicious, Most Nutritious and more.
No advance registration is required, but entries must be dropped off at the university’s Collins Memorial Library between 8-11 a.m. on April 1 to be eligible for the contest. At 3:30 p.m., the awards ceremony will take place, when the best book cooks of the contest will be recognized.
Many Puget Sound faculty members have participated for years, and look forward to the festival every April. Last year, Liz Howell of the university book store won Most Nutritious for her entry “The Bowl With the Vegan Rat Stew/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” a presentation peppered with colorful vegetables and, of course, a dark, eerie (but edible!) rat in the center.
“If my entry makes people smile or laugh, it’s worth it,” she said.
Shannon Briggs of the university’s human resources department turns the festival into a family affair, brainstorming with everyone before settling on an idea. “I can’t let myself think about the festival until mid-March – or I’ll start getting obsessed,” she admitted. “Our whole family gets into it, shooting ideas around all over the place.”
Her strategy was a success last year, when she earned the coveted Most Humorous award for “A Shroom with a Do/A Room With a View.”
“Some people make the most beautiful, delicious displays,” she added. “Mine are none of those things. I like to keep it light and funny.”
Although there are designated judges overseeing the contest, spectators will be able to vote for their favorites, according to organizer Jane Carlin. “This event provides a great opportunity to see how fun, imaginative and creative people can be,” she said.
Carlin encourages visitors to bring canned food items for a food drive to benefit St. Leo’s food bank. The university’s service fraternity, Pi Beta Phi, will also be on hand to share information about their advocacy work supporting literacy efforts. “It’s wonderful to also use the event to focus on the serious nature of literacy issues in our community,” she said.
The event takes place April 1 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The library is also hosting a unique exhibit of artists’ books and collections by Diane Stemper called “Out of Scale,” on view throughout the festival.
University of Puget Sound’s Collins Memorial Library is located at 1500 N. Warner St. in Tacoma.