Books, puns, and baked goods. What’s not to love? Loganberry Books in the Larchmere neighborhood of Cleveland celebrated their 15th year of the Edible Book Festival this past weekend, and it was a delight.
Despite having lived quite close to this bookstore for all these years, I hadn’t heard of the event until I saw a Facebook ad two days before. Which, of course, made me want to enter it. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow for indulging in a last minute baking project, mostly because I couldn’t come up with a suitable idea. So I headed over to the bookstore on Saturday as a spectator.
Loganberry Books is a large, independent bookstore and bindery with over 100,000 new, used, and rare books on hand. There’s a room off to the side where they display artwork and a room in the back where they hold literary events (including this one).
I walked into their back room and started chatting with Ellie Strong, and asked her how long the event has been going on.
“I saw it in Chicago in 2001, and thought it was wonderful,” said Strong, who would later share this story with all the participants waiting for the results to be tabulated. “So I brought it back, and Harriett (Logan) and I put it together and started this in 2004.”
Just then, another attendee stopped by with a ballot in hand and asked, “What is ‘Best Binding’?”
“It looks most like a book,” replied Strong. “I give out that award because I’m the bookbinder.”
I got in line, paid $3 to support the cause (and get a ballot), then made my way into the back room where the entries were lined up on several tables.
I thought it would be a breeze to pick winners. That someone would stand out. I was wrong. There were so many great entries to choose from. We had to pick what we thought was the best entry in four categories: Most Literary, Most Appetizing, Best Binding, and Best Pun.
Judging proved to be quite challenging. After all, there are so many books, and the creativity on display was inspiring. I loved it. I kept trying to think about what I would enter in future years. The best I came up with (with no time to execute) was to pun War & Peace with an entry I’d call “Warren Pizza” made up of a pizza with toppings arranged to resemble Elizabeth Warren. I figure I have a year to learn how to do that.
Judging finished, ballot turned in in exchange for a plastic fork, it was time to wait for the results. It took a bit longer than expected, but the crowd was in good spirits. People got a plastic plate and napkin from a table at the corner of the room and mingled. My kids’ art teacher was there with her two kids, who had been entering this competition for many years. Other people, like me, were there for the first time.
Things ran behind because, as Strong explained when she spoke to the room, “92 ballots is a lot to tally up and my eyes are crossed.” Then she mentioned the Junior Awards. The youngest participant was 5. There were kids of all ages who had entered.
Here’s a photo gallery of the entries, with the winners/awards mentioned in the comments*.
Once the winners were announced, it was time to eat. We devoured the books.
Earlier, while I had spoken with Ms. Strong, she reflected on why this event resonates with her, and likely echoes with those who attended. The Edible Book Festival succeeds, she explained, because it’s about “books, which I love, and food, which I love.” The record-high 92 voters certainly agree.
*Names of kids were occluded in pictures to protect their privacy.