I'm happy to report that books are alive and well in the Central Valley, and will be something to celebrate at the first Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As event founder Toni Raymus explains, it's about celebrating books while creating a fun family event with activities, food and music all for free.
Raymus was inspired by a similar event she attended in Decatur, Ga. "The event was packed with people young and old enjoying a variety of writers. Emerging writers gave talks about their concepts for their new books. The cooking demonstrations were fun. Musicians gave performances, while talking about their memoirs. Plus, the festival featured the normal trappings of food, beverages and arts and crafts vendors."
With so few bookstores remaining in the region, when Raymus described the event to friends, they decided it was something to be introduced to our area.
"Literacy is an important issue," she says, "It's about celebrating the fun in reading and making authors more accessible to their readers."
Raymus notes that a number of major sponsors have stepped up to support the event, impressive for a first year festival. They include Rotary and many of the area's major radio stations.
Raymus and her team have assembled 31 authors, including Rick Deutsch, a k a Mr. Half Dome, and Scott Lankford, who will entertain guests with hidden stories about Lake Tahoe, as well as well-known New York Times bestsellers William Kent Krueger and Allison Brennan.
Part of the fun is how Raymus is mixing things up with performances, speakers and exhibits. The Julia Child stage will feature cookbook authors demonstrating their favorite recipes and tips. The Fire Up stage will present motivational authors. Slam poetry performances will showcase the melding of the art of verse with performance. There's a children's costume parade.
"People will have the opportunity for one-on-one discussions with authors," Raymus notes. "We also we will have an aspiring writers stage with self-publishing as well as editing and writing experts. The surroundings are beautiful and welcoming."
As one of the participating authors, I'm excited about this event and the fact it's promoting literacy. I'm one of those that believes a good book opens minds to inspiration and new ideas, promotes conversation, and stimulates creativity. To borrow an expression, a closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose.
I also enjoy the fact that the event will create a forum for published authors to talk with and encourage aspiring authors.
If you enjoy a good book, want to pick authors' brains, and have some family fun, you're invited to come celebrate books at the Great Valley Bookfest. The event will be held at the BassPro Promenade, Highway 120 at Union Street in Manteca. For more information: www.GreatValleyBookfest.org.
Newcorn is an author and freelance writer living in Modesto. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.