It was truly a red carpet affair for the little city of BG at the 10th Annual SOKY Book Fest as Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie), Harlan Coben (thriller international bestseller), Marc Brown (Arthur the Aardvark creator) and Kathleen Earnst (American Girl) headlined the day-long event. Held at the Sloan Convention Center April 19 and presented by WKU Libraries, BG Public Libraries and Barnes & Noble, the book fest is a fantastic opportunity to get children excited about reading. And it’s pretty cool for the adults to get their books signed by the authors, too!

About a dozen long rows of tables went across the ballroom accommodating the more than 100 authors who were present. There were stacks of books at each author’s spot, some propped up on stands and others fanned out on display. At the front of the room were two Barnes & Noble “check-out” tables, armed with cashiers, registers, and canvas tote bags embroidered with the Book Fest logo.

The ballrooms on either side of the temporary ‘bookstore’ and the 5 meeting rooms down the hall were all set up theater style for special presentations and panel sessions given by various authors throughout the day. A new session began at the top of the hour in each room exploring various topics such as Kentucky novels, Southern dramatic novels, music of the American South, Appalachian Journeys, cookbooks for today, memoirs, and political and legal thrillers. For the kids, there were special talks about children’s illustrators, struggles of growing up, the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and a tea party. They could even get creative at the craft table or have their picture taken with Arthur!

I volunteered to help out and came on duty right around lunch time. With the authors being stationary, we had to bring them a boxed lunch and a drink. It was a complete flashback to my restaurant days, which I thoroughly enjoyed! After a few odd requests from some of the writers and my dashing around to find the answer (or some gum!), I began to chat and shop. I was bumping into people with stacks of books all the way up to their chins! I bought the Kentucky Monthly Cookbook, a collection of best recipes, from magazine publisher Steve Vest, A Conversation with Wendell Berry, consisting of numerous interviews with the inspirational essayist, and Dark Thirst, a romance novel by my AAA pal Sara Reinke that is sure to entertain me on an upcoming trek across country!

As the crowd starting thinning out from what was a packed house early in the day (the headliners opened the day and weren’t able to stay much after their sessions), I began hearing from more and more of the authors how well the event was run and how much they enjoyed coming to BG. For this tourism gal, I couldn’t have been happier, knowing that once again our community came together and supported a great cause- literacy and the love of books!