Arts and Entertainment Editor
After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sewanee Edible Book Festival is back on campus. The Edible Book Festival is an event celebrated by libraries across the world, and involves everyone’s favorite things: books, food, and competition.
On Monday, April 3, 2023, students, staff, and community members gathered in the lobby of duPont Library to cast their vote for one of the categories in the Edible Book Festival: People’s Choice. While walking around, holding a tiny star sticker, people gazed at the many cakes, snacks, and pies that represented various novels.
Photo courtesy of Camille Pfister
The criteria for the Edible Book Festival was simple: it must be edible and represent a book. Some chose to bake a cake and use icing to depict the novel’s cover. Others chose to represent the overall theme or image people think of when they think of the novel. Others went the “punny” route and let humor drive their design.
Penny Cowan, Director of Collections Management of the duPont Library, organized the event with support from the Information Technology Services, Friends of the Library group, and McClurg Dining Hall, which supplied ingredients and cooking space to those who needed it to make their entry.
“We knew we were facing a hill to climb because the group of students here have never seen this before,” Cowan said. “We really tried to focus on publicity, with digital signs and the big poster and everything we could think of to get people involved.”
The festival included six categories of competition: People’s Choice, Funniest/Punniest, Best Team Entry, Best Entry by a Child, Sewanee Connection, and Best Entry of a Children’s Novel.
Junie B. Jones has a Peep in her Pocket cake, created by Sewanee community member Sarah Edmonds, won both People’s Choice and Best Entry of a Children’s Novel. Funniest/Punniest went to the Much Ado About Nothing creation by Associate Dean of the College for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and Professor of English Alexander Bruce (C’89), which involved stacks of rice krispy treats and cupcakes, all labeled “Ado” in icing surrounding an empty cake plate. Best Team Entry went to the jello pie of Moby Dick, created by two Sewanee undergraduate students, Cecilia McFadden (C’25) and Dixon Cline (C’23). Best Entry by a Child went to the cake depicting a Paw Patrol novel. Best Sewanee Connection went to the sherbert creation by Turner Cline (C’23), based on the novel Dune, as the author’s widow is a Sewanee community member.
All entries were lovely and brought visitors lots of joy as they walked through the tables with their friends, looking at each entry. While the voting took place, the library provided a separate table of treats for visitors to eat from, including cakes, crackers, and fruit. After the voting took place, competitors had the choice to either remove their entry from the tables, or allow their entries to be eaten.
It was a fun event and a great reminder of our journey out from the pandemic, as we return to our normal activities, and share our joy and love with one another. The Edible Book Festival is back in full swing, and Cowan is excited to continue it in years to come.
“It has been great,” Cowan said. “We got a good number of entries, it’s not our highest, but we got a lot of comments saying, ‘I think next year…’ so I think we’ll see more involvement.”