Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Decatur Book Festival, 2014

There are two festivals/celebrations of the Southern Written Word that I go to every year - Southern Voices in Hoover, Alabama and the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia.  I have not missed either event in 5 years.   There's a reason for that. 

Today I'm going to tell you all about the glory of DBF.

AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country—but that’s not all they do - the organization behind the festival promotes a year-round literary community by hosting a series of fundraising and literary events.

DBF is in it's 9th year.  I have attended 5 of those years.  I deeply regret missing the first 4 but at the time was swamped by small children and such, and did not realize what a glorious thing I was losing out on.

Daren Wang, Exec. Dir of DBF
The authors that attend this event are treated like royalty - never abandoned or left wandering loose.  There is a huge team of volunteers that ensure they know where they need to be, how to get there and are supplied with what they need for a successful presentation. This in turn ensures that the book lover attending the event of said author also receives what they want - an outstanding presentation by a well prepared author and, if on a panel, a moderator that knows their business.

Speaking of volunteers - there are a billion of them and they are all happy, smiling and so helpful.  Are you lost?  Overly hot? Tired and unsure of where you are going?  All with smiles and identifying t-shirts they will find you seats, locations, water, events and timetables.  These are volunteers that completely believe in the event and books and want to share that love.

The entire square in downtown Decatur opens their doors to this festival.  The author events are held at the high school, the churches, the rec center..... even City Hall!  All doors are opened to the public.  This time I realized that I was at a church event too early when I saw that the sermon was still going on - they simply planned to end the service on time and let in the book lovers.  That is fantastic. 

Jackie Cooper, Ann Hite and Kim Boykin - Authors
In between the author events, you can easily spend your time walking the tents.  Tents and tents of book sellers, publishers, authors, readings and panels.  Special guest speakers pop up here and there.  Authors and publishing houses are more than happy to tell you about their books, ideals and growth plans. Big name authors wander around and mingle, always ready to shake hands, hug and answer questions about their latest book.

There is a special section of books, authors and activities for children that is delightful to see - anything that encourages a young reader is a hit with me. 

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Leon's.  Oh Yum!
On top of all of this, there are the restaurants and stores in an adorable and safe, completely active small Southern downtown.  I not only gain 10 pounds every time I attend DBF, but I have to clutch my wallet and chant to myself "stop buying things" as I walk by all the adorable stores.  If you don't feel like a sit down restaurant, during the festival there are plenty of food tents available where you can get your fair food cravings fulfilled, or even a Greek salad if you're feeling like healthier fair.

As "Media", I will admit that I do get a bit more of the special treatment myself so I can see behind the scenes how much work the DBF team puts into making this an organized, exceptional and well received event - and in turn the authors , book sellers and media feel that it is well deserving of the attention it receives.  The DBF festival grows every year and I can easily see it only becoming better each year.

Link to DBF - Click HERE.

If you want to see more of the  photos I took while at this year's festival, come visit my FB page, facebook.com/idgieatthedew.  I proudly share many author photos and anecdotes about the festival there. (Did I mention that Pat Conroy is a doll of a man?)

Pencil it into your calendar now.  DBF, every year - Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend with a Key Note speaker on the Friday night before.   (If you are the daring sort, there's a Marta station in Downtown that will take you directly to the Dragoncon action in downtown Atlanta too - you can attend both!)

Couldn't get close enough to John Scalzi for a pic - the crowd!
Pat Conroy and John Warley