Union hosts first Edible Book Fest

By Susan Kantor

The first annual Champaign-Urbana Edible Book Festival is today at the Union in room 407 at 9:00 a.m.

The festival, sponsored by the University library, will display the works of participants. These works must be edible and have a connection to books, whether it is a reference to a title, a play on words or the likeness of a book. The goal of the event is to bring together book lovers, book artists, book collectors and people interested in the idea of books said Tom Teper, preservation librarian at the University Library.

“Essentially, the idea is to bring folks together, enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the books,” Teper said.

The idea for the festival was created by Judith A. Hoffberg and fellow book artists at Thanksgiving dinner in 1999. The idea then materialized into the Edible Book Festival in 2000, which is held annually on April 1.

“It is a celebration of people who love books,” said Bea Nettles, professor in the School of Art and Design. “It is also connected with April Fool’s Day and the idea of being frivolous and having books you can eat.”

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    Today’s festival will be the first time this event will be held at the University and is one of 70 edible book festivals in 16 countries.

    “This is a local version of something that has been going on around the world since 2000,” said Sue Searing, head of the library and information science library.

    Kathleen Kern, resident librarian, brought the edible book festival to Champaign-Urbana after she attended a similar event at Columbia College in Chicago, Searing said. Columbia is the only other place in Illinois where the event is held.

    “(Kern) and I just looked at each other and said we just have to do this,” Searing said. “It is just too much fun not to do.”

    Anyone interested was able to participate in the festival as long as an online RSVP was submitted. Nettles required her students in her Advanced Book Art class to enter a project. Nettles also suggested Doyle Moore, retired graphic design professor, book designer, gourmet cook and WILL Chef-in-residence, to judge the entries.

    “When we needed a judge, he is the one that came to mind,” Nettles said.

    Approximately 30-40 entries are expected Nettles said. Once entries have been brought to the event, they will be photographed and judged. The photos will be posted on the www.books2eat.com, the Web site for the international festival. Winners will receive prizes related to art and books. The projects can be viewed from about 11:00 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. when the projects will be eaten. Live music will also be played.

    “For me, reading and eating are two of life’s greatest pleasures,” Searing said. “(The festival) is bringing them together.”