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Handley Library festival to feature edible-book contest

Trish Ridgeway holds a book full of creative ideas
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Trish Ridgeway, Handley Regional Library director, holds a book of creative ideas for building an edible book. Children and adults can enter an edible cake in the library’s upcoming Edible Books Festival, to be held March 30 and April 1. Rich Cooley/Daily

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An edible display
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An edible display featuring the book “Sea of Lost Love,” by Santa Montefiore, features a bowl of candy. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Amber Marra - amarra@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER - Aside from the thousands of books it already offers, the Handley Regional Library will soon be full of food for thought.

While most of the books lining the shelves at the historic library are meant to stimulate the mind, the books offered at the upcoming Edible Books Festival and contest will stimulate both creativity and the senses.

"We just thought it would be a really nifty idea that was a lot of fun," said Library Director Trish Ridgeway.

Nifty ideas aside, the thought of consuming a book might make some turn away before giving it a chance. But who could resist taking a bite out of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" if it was made of onion rings or if Beatrix Potter's classic was spun to be "The Tale of Pita Rabbit," especially if it came with warm pita bread complete with creamy hummus?

The point is, illustrating the story a book tells does not have to necessarily be done with ink and paper, and that is exactly what the festival intends to showcase on an appropriately silly holiday.

"April Fools Day does seem like a good day to have it because we want it to be fun while emphasizing literacy, literature, art and food," Ridgeway said.

This will be the first year the Handley Regional Library has held the event, which will have separate categories for children and adults. The festival is widespread on an international scale, however, and also falls on the birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the famed French gastronome, according to a pamphlet on the festival.

Entries will be judged on best representation of a book, highest percent of edible materials, artistic merit, most hand-crafted, most humorous and uniqueness.

The judges for the event will include Logan Ward, who is an author and will represent the literary portion of the competition. Brenda Rhodes Miller will represent the culinary portion, as she has authored a cookbook, and finally Barbara Byrd, a local artist, will be looking at each entry from an aesthetic standpoint.

Some book titles may be easier to come up with an edible counterpart than others; an orange timepiece for Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" or a cluster of grumpy grapes for John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."

For those who are having a little more trouble coming up with a clever idea, Ridgeway and the folks at SweetTooth Bakery in Winchester have you covered. SweetTooth's owner, Joyce McDaniels, will be available for a cake decorating workshop on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Handley Library Benham Room. McDaniels will be focusing on butter cream frosting, fondant, and other tips and tricks for making a cake that will stand out.

"I'll give them some ideas with things that are used in the cake industry that are edible, like rock candy," she said. "I'll also go over a lot of things in the cake industry like molding chocolates, because that's really simple to do."

McDaniels also plans to enter the competition herself, she said.

Ridgeway wants it to be clear that all of the entries do not have to be cakes, or require any cooking at all, like an illustration for Elizabeth's Byrd's "The Famished Land," which is simply a single raw potato at the bottom of a large, black kettle. Some of the puns and food illustrations can be difficult to decipher, however, which has formed part of the rules for the competition.

"If you look at some of them you can't always tell what it's illustrating, so we are requiring people to say what the book is," Ridgeway said.

An entry fee of $5 will be charged for children ages 5 to 10 and teenagers from 11 to 16. Those in the adult amateur and adult professional categories will be charged a $25 entrance fee. The children's portion of the event will be held on March 30, with entries being accepted from 1 to 3 p.m., and refreshments and awards from 5 to 6 p.m. The grand first-prize winner of the children's category will be displayed at the adult portion of the competition.

There will be a $50 admission fee for the adult portion of the competition, which will fall on April 1. Entries will be accepted that day from noon to 2 p.m., and wine and appetizers along with the voting for the people's choice award will occur from 7 to 8:30 p.m., when the winners will be announced. All professional entries will be auctioned off and all proceeds and donations from the event will go toward the advancement of the library.

Those who wish to enter the Edible Books Festival should send an
e-mail to ediblebook@handleyregional.org.

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