The biggest thing on the minds of the staff of Rain Taxi right now is the annual Twin Cities Book Festival which takes place this coming Saturday, Oct 12. It's bigger and promises to be better than ever this year.
The Festival is essentially where a huge array of authors is corralled into town on one day, to be on panels, give talks and sign books. It attract 5,000 to 7,000 visitors, and this year will be held in two buildings on the MN State Fairgrounds. Last year, it moved from the long-time home at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and occupied the Progress Center on the Fair grounds. This year, it will occupy both the Progress Center and the Fine Arts Center.
For the first time this year, there was a Preview event, at the Minneapolis Central Library on Sept 24. Eric Lorberer, director of the festival, gave a presentation, complete with video clips, which gave highlights of the upcoming festival. And we had a surprise guest with award-winning author William Alexander, who told about his experiences with the Festival. It was a great way to get a feel for what Eric called the ‘cluster of events’ that make up this year’s Festival.
Things get started before the actual day of the Festival. The cluster of events includes a collaboration with the reading series Pen Pals, which is run by the Friends of the Hennepin County Library. This year, the reading just before the Festival is George Saunders, on Oct 10 and Oct 11. The Friends of the HCL and the TCBF are teaming up to make Saunders’ event the kick-off event for the Festival. Tickets are available through Pen Pals.
On the Friday night before the Festival, there has generally been a fund-raising cocktail party, where those who want to meet the authors and support Rain Taxi can do both at the same time. This year, the Friday Night Soiree will be held at Chowgirls Parlor, and attendees will get the chance to meet some of the headliners and special guests of the Festival, and toast the ongoing success of this literary gathering. For $40, you get beverages, Chowgirls delicacies and sparkling conversation. Your attendance at this event helps to support the free Festival, so help “keep the meter running!”
All manner of literary activities can be had on the day of the Festival. The show this year will include all of the usual elements, which traditionally has meant a show floor, break-out sessions with authors and panels, a used book sale, and a Children’s Pavilion, expanded this year. New last year was the Lit Lounge, which will be larger this year as well.
The show floor includes booths from all sorts of literary organizations, including the Loft, local publishers, literary magazines, creative writing programs, reading series, and more. These booths sometimes offer book signings, so you may be able to get up close and personal with one of your favorite authors. And there are always giveaways and book deals to be had. The used book sale is typically adjacent to the show floor, as is the Lit Lounge and the CLMP Literary Magazine Fair.
A new development this year is the addition of vinyl to make this the Used Book & Record Sale. Great finds can be had, and all proceeds benefit the Festival. The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses runs the Lit Mag Fair, with a great selection available at introductory prices. Find some wonderful new or old lit in either one of these areas.
The Local Lit Lounge is where you can sit down at little café tables with a rotating slate of authors, to chat with them, get your books signed, and get to know them a little better. It’s a little more comfortable than a show-floor signing, and you can sometimes chat for a while. A huge array of authors will be there for hour-long slots all day. Several authors will be there with activities, so check the schedule to make sure you don’t miss your favorites. Common Good Books will handle book sales for the Lit Lounge.
The headliner presentations range from topics of interest to literary types, like a session on Classics Old and New: What and How to Read in the 21st Century, or Writers at Work: Making a Living and Life, to specific authors who will give readings and presentations, like Nicholson Baker, Delia Ephron, David Wojahn and many more. These usually run from first thing in the morning right up to the last hour. Magers & Quinn Booksellers will handle all book sales for the general presentations.
The Children’s Pavilion, sponsored by MELSA, is being given more of its own space this year. It is being expanded to encompass author readings, musical performances, games, crafts, workshops and more. Some of the featured are locals, but just as many are being lured to Minnesota by the prospect of a day playing at enjoying literature with children. Those confirmed include Lisa Bullard, Lynne Jonell, Mary Logue, Kurtis Scaletta and Kristen Tracy, with special appearances by SA Bodeen and Robert Sabuda. Check the website for free scheduled activities all day, including a Storywalk with David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka, and book arts with Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The Red Balloon Bookshop will handle all Children Pavilion book sales.
Books for all of the featured authors in all of the areas are sold throughout the Festival. Even if you don’t have any kids tagging along or participate, you just may want to wander over to the Children’s Pavilion to grab some of those titles for great holiday gifts. Most authors will be available for signing at one time or another.
The Festival doors open at 10:00 am and the whole thing wraps up at 5:00 pm. Food onsite this year will be provided by People’s Organic and Potter’s Pasties, both serving inside the Progress Center. Good Food Concessions will have a Cinne Smith trailer outside between the Progress Center and the Fine Arts Center, serving fair food and their famous Cinne Smith cinnamon rolls.
Bring a bag to carry your purchases, don’t forget to enter the raffle when you get there to win great prizes, and wear comfortable shoes. Clear your schedule for Sunday, when you will want to hit the couch to peruse all the great literature you picked up at the Twin Cities Book Festival!
Check back soon for a profile that goes behind the scenes with the crew that make up Rain Taxi, the organization that sponsors the Twin Cities Book Festival each year.
What's your favorite thing about the Festival?