2nd Annual Edible Book Festival

Southwest Open School (SWOS) will again present the Edible Book Festival, in cooperation with the Cortez Public Library. Last year’s event featured creative entries from K-12 students and school staff, but coordinator Rita Stramel is hoping for broader community participation at this year’s event.

The library will again host the festival, on April 12 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The International Edible Book Festival is held each year in countries around the world on or about April 1. The official website, www.books2eat.com, describes it as an “ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate.” The first event, in 2000, was inspired by French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), who wrote Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. The author’s birthday is April 1, “the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the ‘books’ are consumed on the day of the event,” according to the site.

The late date of the local event is due to the timing of spring break (March 29-April 6) and the fact that Saturday is most convenient for the majority of the population.

SWOS director Jennifer Carter says the festival is a good vehicle for promoting literacy, besides being “just fun.” Stramel adds,“Making edible books really stretches the imagination. But I’ve found that once people wrap their heads around the concept, they can usually come up with more than one idea.”

For those who doubt their own creative ability, SWOS will hold a short workshop to help stimulate ideas and plan book-building strategies. Stramel, an avid cook, will be there to suggest materials and “construction” methods. The workshop will be held at the school on April 8 from 4:15 to 4:45 p.m. Meanwhile, Stramel suggests browsing through photos of creations from past years, posted on www.books2eat.com. There are few rules; every entry must be “bookish,” whether in form, content, or inspiration, and they must be edible. Other than that, the only limitations are individuals’ creativity and culinary ambition.

Entries may be dropped off at the library on April 12 between noon and 1:00 p.m. The edible books display will begin at 1:00. At 2:30 prizes will be awarded for the best entries in the following categories: Best Entry under 12 years old, Best Entry 12-18 years old, Best Entry over 18 years, Most Appetizing, Least Appetizing, and Best Group Entry. Afterwards festival-goers will eat the “books.”

Cortez’ Edible Book Festival is supported by a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. The fun isn’t reserved for students, though. Anyone in the community may participate.