Contributed photo — Participants from the 2016 South Whidbey Edible Book Festival wait their turn to sample one of the entries.

Reimagining books into edible creations, the Whidbey way

Bayview Hall will be lined with curious cakes and delectable creations next Saturday, as South Whidbey’s book worms and pun aficionados have the chance to reinterpret some of their favorite reads into bites to eat.

The South Whidbey Edible Book Festival gives attendees an opportunity to let their imaginations run wild and cook up creations inspired by literary works. That could leave festival participants with delicious cakes one could find at a bakery, or oddball creations using vegetables as a key ingredient. Snacks and baked goods with strange toppings such as eggs and plastic animals can be expected to represent classics such as “Humpty Dumpty” and “Noah’s Arc,” among other strange and often hilarious cakes.

“It’s actually not that easy to explain since you can do so much,” organizer Jill Yomnick said. “It’s something that can go in so many different directions since it’s all about imagination.”

The guidelines to the edible book festival are fairly simple. Attendees select a book, either an adult’s or children’s book, and create an image in their mind of what that book would physically look like. Participants then gather the necessary ingredients and baking sheets to bring their idea to life and prepare it for a competition against “50 or so” other book-inspired bites. There are multiple categories up for bragging rights, including best in show, best visual presentation, most “punderful” and most appetizing.

Organizers are encouraging contestants to enter either an appetizer, entree or desert, as long as it’s family friendly. The crowd has an hour to view contest submissions and jockey for position in front of the tastiest looking “edible book,” before the crowd votes on their favorite.

The event starts at 2 p.m. and ends around 3:30 p.m., by which time most of the cakes will be devoured by the crowd. Entry registration is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Viewing, judging and photography will run from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“People have been making delicious entries over the last few years,” Yomnick said. “But there are definitely others [that] kids aren’t waiting to eat. Those are some of the most fun.”

One of those madmen behind odd and pun-filled past entries is Clinton resident Bob Bowling. He’s taken home multiple awards in past years for reinterpretations of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “War and Peace,” all while using a tequila bottle and peas to create “Tequila Mockingbird” and “War and Peas.” His tequila bottle was emptied and filled with tea.

“Some are definitely more desirable than others,” Bowling said. “There are many like me who have a little fun and put weird things you’d never see on a cake. That’s all part of the fun and quirkiness of the edible book festival.”

Bowling hasn’t quite decided what to do this year, but he has some ideas. He and others planning to participate are keeping their cards close to their chests, making people wait for the big day to see their concoctions. Past entries give an idea of what to expect, though. Bowling said his wife has reinterpreted “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and, hilariously, “What’s Your Poo Telling You?” in the past.

Yomnick and Bowling agree the South Whidbey Edible Book Festival is about as Whidbey as it gets. Bowling says it’s “out there,” family-friendly and fun for adults and kids alike while encouraging all to get wacky. It’s part of what brings past contestants back year after year, Bowling added.

“There are a lot of creative and literary people here on the island, so this is something Whidbey would be into,” Bowling. “There’s a reason my wife and I do it whenever we can.”

Contributed photo — A past contestant entered their interpretation of “Humpty Dumpty,” complete with red velvet cake and a candy egg.

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Photo by Maria Matson / Whidbey News Group
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