Last fall, more than 2,000 literature lovers of all ages convened on the streets of Doylestown for the inaugural Bucks County Book Festival. The two-day celebration featured opportunities to hear from 50 professionally-published authors, enjoy special children’s events, and meet Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who was the keynote speaker.
Currently, hundreds of volunteers are gearing up to do it all again. The second annual Bucks County Book Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13, with this year’s schedule including a keynote address from another Pulitzer Prize winner, panels and book signings, writers’ and illustrators’ workshops, a Kids Fest, a marketplace with vendors, and a slew of new offerings.
Event organizer Regina Fried said she’s ecstatic to have the festival return.
“We had a good first year. We had around 2,100 people attend both days of the event. We had great positive feedback. We did a survey after the fact and the overwhelming majority of people said they wanted to return next year and that it was a really positive experience,” Fried said. “I feel like book festivals are having a moment right now. I think Bucks County and the whole Delaware Valley region has been looking for an event like this because there isn’t a large literature event in the area.”
The keynote author for 2019 is New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen, who will present A Conversation with Anna Quindlen on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at Salem United Church of Christ, 186 E. Court St. This is one of the festival’s few ticketed events. Prices are $30 (includes a copy of Quindlen’s latest book Nanaville, available in hardcover only), or $20 (includes a choice of Alternate Side, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Miller’s Valley, Short Guide to a Happy Life or Still Life with Breadcrumbs). Tickets are available online.
Other authors slated to appear are Steven Rowly, Chuck Wendig, Kate Moore and Jessie Sima, with their writing spanning a variety of genres and topics.
Young book lovers can enjoy a Kids Fest on Oct. 12, where they’ll meet children’s authors and illustrators, and be introduced to fictional and real characters who inspire them. This takes place alongside the Doylestown Fire Company’s annual Fire Prevention Open House, and also includes activities, fire trucks and dogs.
During Kids Fest, attendees are invited to drop off a children’s book as part of a book drive. Donations will be distributed to Americans for Native Americans in Doylestown and Tree House Books in Philadelphia.
Also taking place on Saturday are two creative workshops. Tickets are $35 for each workshop and must be purchased in advance.
The Illustrators’ Workshop, a new event, takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Stacks Co., 54 E. Oakland Ave. This three-hour session is perfect for the beginner or seasoned illustrator, age 17 and older, seeking guidance from well-respected professionals in the industry. Presenters include Floyd Cooper, winner of the Coretta Scott King award for illustration who appeared at the 2018 Book Festival; illustrator Lauren Walsh; social media expert Beth Hauptle; and intellectual property expert Doug Ryder.
The Writers’ Workshop will follow from 1 to 4 p.m. at the James Lorah Memorial Home, 132 N. Main St. It is open to aspiring and accomplished writers, age 17 and older. Panelists include Dr. Ethel Rackin, professor of language and literature at Bucks County Community College; Rabbi Sigal Brier, creator of Mendful; Lynn Rosen, co-owner of Open Book Bookstore; and Susan Barr-Toman, novelist and leader of Mindful Writing workshops and retreats.
On Saturday evening, guests can participate in the all-new Books ‘N Brew portion of the Book Festival. From 5 to 6:30 p.m., small groups of authors will perform improv, readings and interactive story-building at three area bars – Pag’s Pub, Maxwell’s on Main (MOMs) and HopsScotch22.
On Oct. 13, adults and teens can meet featured authors and attend panel discussions on topics such as Books and Beer, Self-Care, Young Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Historical Fiction and Mystery and Suspense. They can also receive fall book recommendations from publisher representatives, and join a One Book discussion about The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is another new component for 2019.
During this fresh reading initiative, which begins Thursday, Oct. 10, the community will come together to read the book penned by Garth Stein. The best-selling story is about Enzo, a dog with a nearly-human soul. The festival has events planned to discuss and complement One Book, including the panel discussion on Sunday, a special film showing at the County Theater and more.
“The reason we chose that is because there’s the main book itself, then there is a young readers’ edition and also a picture book,” said Fried. “It really is for readers of all ages. It’s a relatively easy read, and it has some really interesting themes.”
Fried and her team are hopeful that this year’s festival is even more successful than the last.
“We’re thrilled to be doing this again, and we expect it to grow every year,” she said. “We have really big ideas for the future.” ••
For more information on the Bucks County Book Festival, including a full schedule of events, visit bucksbookfest.org.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org