UF's ReadFest concludes with 'edible book' contest

"The Hungary Games" edible book entry for the annual University of Florida Smathers Libraries' Edible Book Contest on Thursday.

Photo by Doug Finger/ Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:40 p.m.

A crowd stood in front of Library West on the University of Florida campus Thursday to admire and vote for their favorite entry in the seventh annual Edible Book Contest.

Students, staff and members of the community could participate in the contest, which asked entrants to use edible ingredients to concoct a cake or something similar that related to or represented a particular book title.

The contest marked the culmination of the 11th annual ReadFest, which took place on the lawn outside Library West on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Hank Young, who works in the library's cataloging department, said ReadFest is a way to show that libraries can have fun, too.

The Edible Book Contest has grown over the seven years it has been a part of ReadFest, Young said — so much so that the contest is now celebrated on its own separate day.

Young recalls a year when one participant set up a bunch of white grapes and drew scowling faces on them with a Sharpie to represent "The Grapes of Wrath."

"When people come up with the ideas, it just amazes me," Young said.

Young said he particularly looks forward to seeing what people come up with to illustrate children's books.

On Thursday, students, staff and local residents could stop by during the contest and vote for the best all-around winner while judges Carol McCuster, Ann Lidell and Ellen Knudson chose other winners.

Thursday's awards went to: best overall, Deborah Kellerman, "The Wizard of Oz;" best children's book, Cindy Craig, "Watership Down;" best non-fiction, Deborah McEdward, "The Quest for Life in Amber;" best pun, Ciara Powell, "The Picture of Dorian Gray;" best non-cake, Amy Winslow, "Optical Illusions;" participation, Dana Masari and Emily Sneeden.

Winslow carried her bulky Optical Illusions entry across campus from the football stadium parking lot. Her creation was made of cheese, bread, spinach, spaghetti, gum and tortillas.

"It's really a challenge to work with things other than cake materials. I've yet to master not letting it deteriorate and not staying up the whole night before," Winslow said.

This was the third year of competing in the contest for McEdward, who is the education and training coordinator in the College of Dentistry. She said her entry involved a weeklong process.

"It's just so fun to be creative. You have to think about it and come up with the idea. I absolutely love to read, so anything we can do to publicize reading is great, too," McEdward said.

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