The Tucson Festival of Books is this weekend, and I’m in for the full meal deal, from the beginning author reception on Friday evening to the Literacy Connects reception on Sunday after the festival closes.
This if the ninth annual TFOB, and I’m honored to have been a part of it from the very beginning. When I did the keynote for the first one, I had no idea that the festival would grow into the third largest book festival in the country. Size matters, but so does quality, and it’s no accident that this is, as far as I’m concerned, the best run one of the bunch.
Why do I say that? Because the people in charge, along with their army of volunteers, really care. There’s no trash at the festival nor are there overflowing trash receptacles, either. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, she’s saying the festival is good became somebody handles the garbage?” You bet. That’s exactly what I’m saying!!
On the first day of that first festival, one of my fans tripped over an electrical cord and fell. The people in charge sent a cart to pick her up and take her to a first aid station and on to the parking garage. But do you know what they did next? They sent a cart to pick ME up and take me to the garage so I could sign the woman’s book! That’s paying attention to detail.
Shortly before one of the festivals, one of my fans, who happens to be blind, wrote to tell me that a whole group of my blind fans who were coming to the festival. Would there be a chance of meeting with me privately? I put the question to Bill Viner, and even with everything else on his plate, he arranged for a room in the Student Union where I was able to have a private program with those folks. Thank you for that, Bill, and thank you for everything you and Brenda do for the festival and also for the community at large.
So the details are everything. But why is the festival so important? Because it supports literacy. All you have to do is land in China or Russia to suddenly experience what it must feel like to be illiterate. In the past nine years, TFOB has donated 1.4 million dollars to literacy programs throughout Arizona, including Tucson’s Literacy Connects. I’ve had the honor of meeting a Literacy Connects client, Marcia, as well as her tutor, Trish. Marcia is someone who, struggling with dyslexia, didn’t learn to read until she was in her fifties. Believe me, the Tucson Festival of Books is personal for her!
So, as I said, I’ll be at the festival throughout the weekend. A full listing of festival appearances in on my website, www.jajance.com. If you bring a pile of books, one way or another, we’ll get them signed, right, Rosie? But if you see me out on the mall or in the dining tent, don’t be afraid to stop by and say hello. I won’t bite, and if I’m not late to something else, I’ll be happy to chat. One of the points of the festival is to give readers a chance to meet and mingle with the authors.
I’ve been to the TFOB when it was rainy and cold and also when it’s been windy and blustery. The talking heads say it’s going to be mid-eighties this weekend, so wear sunscreen and a hat. But come on down.
It’ll be fun.