The Tucson Festival of Books is just around the corner! I am always excited to attend, but this year is the biggest one for me since I am going as an author. I will be taking care of the booth (number 217) along with another author, James Dalrymple, all day Saturday, March 11th, 2017 for our publisher Black Rose Writing. For those who don’t know, this comprehensive event is located on the mall of the University of Arizona. We will be located a little southeast of the Food Court and in front of the Science Engineering Library. It should be a lot of fun meeting people and talking about books. My kind of people!
A little history of the festival is in order. The Tucson Festival of Books Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded by Bill and Brenda Viner, Frank Farias, John M. Humenik and Bruce Beach. They launched the first event on March 14th and 15th, 2009. They attracted 450 authors and presenters, 800 volunteers and 50,000 visitors. What a turnout for their debut! The named sponsors, meaning those whose name appear on the logo for the Tucson Festival of Books, are the Arizona Daily Star and the University of Arizona. Attendance has increased most years since and has reached at least 130,000. I can’t seem to locate the 2016 stats, but that highest figure I have was for 2015. It is now the third largest book festival in the United States. I’m proud that the Old Pueblo has made such a statement for culture with its overwhelming support. Most importantly, proceeds go to helping improve literacy rates in Southern Arizona.
I’ll have you know the activities go beyond reading and writing, too. There is a wide variety of entertainment for everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. I don’t want to oversell it or anything, but you won’t suffer for something to do if you’re not a bookworm. The food alone could keep a person busy. There is Science City, a huge section of many tents that house everything from agri-science to animal studies, from the latest in brain research to astronomy. For the less nerdy, there are musicians and dancers. You can see stand-up comedy. For the children, there will be a character parade in which they can participate or active imagination theatre for the entire family. A Cirque de Soleil-style circus will feature literary masterpieces. The Daily Star has its own tent with topical lectures of interest. The Western National Parks have a wonderful exhibit. And there’s much, much more. So, yeah, plenty to do.
For me, though, it’s about the books and the authors. There will be approximately 430 presenting authors alone. That doesn’t count the authors like me who were not invited to make presentations or participate in panel discussions for fans. Nonetheless, we were published by traditional publishing houses because of the quality of our books. Then there are all the self-published authors who are pursuing their craft with legitimate works of literary art and who, like the rest of us, are out there doing the marketing that all writers have to do. We each have stories to tell, and hopefully we contribute to the evolution of humanity or at least entertain the masses while they struggle to make the world a better place. The famous rub elbows a bit with the fans while sharing something we all have in common. We learn more about those stories and how they came about. We learn more about the authors, seeing them answer questions and reveal their personalities, for better or for worse.
Indeed, the Tucson Festival of Books is an enriching experience for so many in our desert community. We can be truly proud of the event brought to us every year by the founders, the sponsors and the many volunteers that make it happen. Dig as deeply as you can in the two days you have to experience this. So many books, so little time!