Lora Young set her Peeps out to dry a month ago.
That's rule No. 1, she said, when you're making art out of the marshmallow candies associated with Easter: No fresh Peeps.
"Peeps have to be dry to work with them," said Young, one of 55 participants who entered works of art in the third annual Peep Show held in York, Neb., on March 13. "The first time, I didn't let them dry and I tried to stick them together and they wouldn't stay."
The rules for the Peep Show are simple: Sculptures, paintings, photography or videos -- anything goes, as long as you include actual Peeps or images of Peeps.
The family-friendly Peep Show, held in this town of 8,000, is a celebration of the chewy treat. This year seven official judges determined winners in six categories, and nearly 300 spectators filled out ballots to pick the Peep-le's Choice award among the 75 entries.
They had quite a choice: A tub of Peepcorn. The Real HousePeeps of York County. The Leaning Tower of Peepza. Peeps in the Olympics, with safety pins as ice skates and popsicle sticks for skis. SpongeBob SquarePants.
One aspiring artist used a pocket-sized flashlight to spotlight a miniature stage featuring Gladys Knight and the Peeps. Another rigged up a small strobe light for a drag show, with Lady Gaga's music blaring across the auditorium (fighting for attention a display featuring tunes from a KISS rock show).
Young, who is the director of the convention and visitors bureau in Norfolk, Neb., and drove nearly 100 miles for the event, cast a lavender bunny Peep as the host of The Late Show with David Peeperman. Twenty-nine Peeps made up the set: One played host (with a cutout of Letterman's face for authenticity), and there were five Late Show band members, one guest -- and the rest sitting in perfectly neat rows in the audience.
"I'm looking for creativity in the displays, how much effort they had to put in to make their displays and the thought process that went into the displays," said Lois Petersen, one of the judges. "We're judging on if it makes you smile and laugh. I did a lot of that today."
Bob Sautter, executive director of York's visitor's bureau, constructed a two-foot-tall bottle of Peepto-Bismol, covered with pink bunny Peeps.
Last week, he put neon pink paint on a spoon with a single Peep and set it out to dry. His 85-pound female basset hound got to it while it was still wet and made a mess.
"I had pink paint all over my carpet, my leather furniture, my walls," Sautter said. "And then she [the dog] didn't even eat the damn Peep."
The largest crowds congregated around the multimedia entries, which included a two-and-a-half-minute video spoof, "Peepinator 2: Judgment Day." It was submitted by Eric Eckert, webmaster for the York News-Times newspaper, and won the Peeple's Choice award in multimedia.
"There's, unfortunately, an expectation in this town that when the Peep Show comes up, that I'm going to have some sort of crazy Peep film for them to watch," Eckert said.