By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – More than 100 authors, poets, and book illustrators will gather with thousands of book fans and readers at Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District on Saturday, September 21 for the second annual Oklahoma Book Festival. The event is presented by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL). Attendance is free.
Festival 2019 honorary chairs are Jayne Jayroe Gamble and former Governor Frank Keating.
Starting at 9 a.m., the festival will include book sales, entertainment, all-day poetry readings and children’s craft activities. Author presentations and panel sessions will begin at 10 a.m. and run every hour. Final book signings will be held at 5 p.m. and the bookstore will remain open until 6 p.m.
Headlining this year’s event are Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes correspondent and the author of Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times; award-winning mystery writer Anne Hillerman, author of The Tale Teller; Choctaw poet, fiction writer, playwright, and filmmaker LeAnne Howe, author of Savage Conversations; Young Adult fantasy author Brandon Mull, the New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven series, including his latest, Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King; and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of 8th Grade Superzero.
Vicki Mohr and Connie Armstrong, festival organizers with the Department of Libraries, say the event will feature authors for all ages and a variety of genres.
“Because of the feedback from last year’s festival, this year we’ve added panels with authors who write romance and inspirational works,” Mohr said.
Other panels will feature children’s picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, mystery writers, non-fiction works, illustrators, historical fiction, true crime, bilingual children’s authors, and comic books.
“The world of books is so diverse, we put together panels and presentations that will appeal to a diverse group of readers,” said Armstrong, director of the Oklahoma Center for the Book at ODL.
One children’s panel will feature picture books about women leaders of color, including two notable Oklahomans: Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller by Doreen Rappaport and Linda Kukuk, and Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.
Non-fiction titles include important chapters in Oklahoma history, such as Tulsa 1921: Reporting a Massacre by Randy Krehbiel, and Cold War Oklahoma by Landry Brewer.
The event will include panel discussions covering topics such as the natural world and baseball, as well as an artists’ roundtable. Local food trucks will be available during the daylong event
Children’s activities include a story time tent featuring authors and volunteers reading picture books to the event’s young attendees. The Southern Oklahoma Library System will operate a craft tent which will feature superhero crafts like capes and shields. In addition, the Pioneer Library System will provided its mobile maker space for young creative types.
Artists on the Entertainment Stage include the Sugar Free Allstars, kicking off the festival at 9 a.m. Also performing will be Extreme Animals, Artist Jerry Bennett (whose clients include Marvel, Lucasfilm and Dreamworks), Mad Science, magician Steve Crawford, improv act Jay & Leslie, and juggler Michael King. Balloon artist John Pansze will be performing all day.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth since our first book festival last year,” Mohr said. “We recruited about 50 authors to attend last year, and we now have more than 100 this year. In many cases, the authors and publishers came to us because they had heard of last year’s success.”
The Oklahoma Book Festival is presented by the Department of Libraries with the support of the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Premiere sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Services, attorney Laurie Williams, Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and 110 Events.
Media sponsors are News 9, The Oklahoman, and the Oklahoma Gazette. Bookseller for this year’s festival is Full Circle Books.