Annual wedding cake contest in Westminster a sweet experience

There was a bass fish jumping out of water, a purse tightly closed and an art case open, paint tubes splayed around it.

Graveyards, castles, ghosts and minions also were present.

But the stars of The Great American Cake Show and Wedding Cake Competition in Westminster were the 18 cakes in the center of the room.

Decorated to the theme of a "Royal Wedding — Fit for a Queen," the cakes were all decorated to the nines, ranging from a Faberge Egg theme to Marie Antoinette. There was even one featuring the "the Royal Corgi" (a dog).

And if the rules were followed, everything on the cakes was edible.

"You don't realize how many forms of sugar there is," smiled Jo Puhak, show director, as she pointed to gum paste flowers, fondant details, spray-painted sugar and blown sugar sculptures. "You can get a sugar high just walking through here."

First held in 2006, the cake show came to Westminster in 2007, bringing with it cakes from around the country, as well as judges, vendors and demonstrators involved with the art of cake decorating.

Previously held in May, the show moved to October this year to avoid conflict with a similar show in Virginia in May. The new date, along with the economy and the government shutdown, were cited as factors that made this year's show the smallest to date.

"We are smaller this year than we've ever been," Puhak admitted. "We were lucky we were able to go on. Two shows [in other states] had to be canceled."

The 80 cakes in the competition hailed from up and down the East Coast as well as New Mexico and local spots like Westminster and Taneytown. In past years, the competition has had cakes entered from California, Washington and Canada.

"You never know what you're going to get," Puhak said, of the competition.

The show always features a variety of free demonstrations and activities for children such as creating gingerbread houses and fondant creatures. Classes on specific topics were also available for a cost.

As she stared at the elegant wedding cake in front of her, Diane Head could only shake her head.

"It's thoroughly amazing," the Idaho resident said, as she looked at the cakes around her.

Visiting a friend in Maryland, she was attending the cake show for the first time.

"I'm just overwhelmed," she said. "The creativity. The intricate details. I can't believe all this is stuff is made out of sugar."

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