Just three short months ago I travelled to snowy Minneapolis to attend the American Bookseller’s Association’s Winter Institute. It was my first association meeting as a newly minted Bookseller, and it was a truly transformative week. I’ve told you all about the meeting before – met bookstore owners from round the world who shared their advice, found new vendors for the shop and met Lots of authors including Andrew McCarthy – remember? Well, among the sessions I chose to attend was one on hosting a Children’s Book Festival. Before the session was even over I had written emails to a couple of my favorite Children’s Book authors that said something like “I am sitting in this session about starting a Children’s Book Festival and I want to do this, I thought you might have advice on what works and what doesn’t since you have taken part in book festivals in the past. I wonder if we can meet so I can pick your brain”. Then in early February I arrived back in the south and early in the next week I sent off another email, this one to Glenna Fallin of the West Feliciana Parish Library. “Glenna, can we meet I have an idea I want to talk to you about.“ the email said. And off I went to the Library. I told Glenna of my idea and asked if the library wanted to be involved and guess what? They did!
Then we put a notice out on Facebook asking if there was interest from the community, and guess what? There was! Before too much time passed we had our first volunteers meeting and we were off to the races. Our fabulous volunteers designed and developed a logo , gathered loaner tents from generous community members, signed up to man tents and organize face painters and the sidewalk chalk art contest and so much more. We simply could not have done this and particularly not so quickly without these fabulous folks.
I got busy contacting authors and publishers, Glenna got busy contacting and organizing storytellers and more presenters and everyone started spreading the word. And the First Annual West Feliciana Children’s Book festival was born.
All told we will have more than 15 authors, illustrators and storytellers taking part in the day’s events and another 16 authors and illustrators joining us in our Author’s Corner to talk about, sign and sell their books.
In addition to this we are lucky enough to have our local cheerleaders who will be doing face painting at the park grounds, a movie presentation, a birthday celebration for the 75th birthday of The Little Golden Books (happy Birthday poky little puppy), lots of book sales including a bargain book table, and of course the much anticipated town-wide sidewalk chalk art competition.
One week to go before our first event is in the books and we already have authors, illustrators and storytellers inquiring about participating next year!
They say it takes a Village to raise a child, I say “It takes a ‘Ville to raise a Children’s Book Festival”. This would not happen without all the help we have had so far and the help of those signed up to volunteer next weekend both setting up tents and running the actual festival. To all of you I want to send out a HUGE THANK YOU in advance.
And we are not done yet. We can still use help spreading the word. The newspaper and blog , website and Facebook coverage has been unbelievable ( Thank you, thank you, thank you) , and this week Glenna and I will be on the WAFB morning news. Keep on sharing the good news and spreading the word. We have got everything in place, now we just need a park full of children to enjoy it! I hope to see you on Saturday May 6, 2017 !