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Children making paper, April 10, 1999
Children making paper, Arizona Book Festival, April 10, 1999 Photo: Dan Schilling

Arizona Book Festival

An annual book fair featuring over 100 authors reading and signing their books. The Arizona Book Fair was created to showcase writers of the West and South, as well as book-related events that take place in libraries, bookstores, community centers, and other educational and cultural spaces. In the early 1990s, as book festivals began to flourish around the country, it became apparent that there was no one festival that celebrated the many fine writers who call the Southwest home: writers like Barbara Kingsolver, N. Scott Momaday, Cormac McCarthy, Rudolfo Anaya, and Tony Hillerman. To that end, the Arizona Humanities Council pulled together a planning committee in 1997 to see if they could design such an event. Coordinated by the Arizona Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the first Arizona Book Festival was held April 7, 1998. Approximately 3,000 people attended the event. Held outdoors in Margaret T. Hance Park in central Phoenix, the event included children's activities, music, and food. The festival organizers rented nearly 80 exhibit booths to bookstores, libraries, and publishers.

For the second Book Festival, held April 10, 1999, the state's largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, became the Presenting Sponsor, and publicized the event with ads and feature stories in the weeks before the Festival. The event was such a success, the Republic intends to continue its sponsorship. An award-winning poster created especially for the Festival, designed by Apache artist Michael Lacapa, was for sale at the event, as were book bags and visors, helping to generate earned income. Other book-related companion events were scheduled during the week throughout the State of Arizona. Attendance tripled -- to 9,000 people -- for the 1999 Festival, and more than 110 exhibitors rented booths. By design, the authors invited to the Book Festival represented different cultures, literary genres, and subject matter, guaranteeing a diverse audience, and the success of the event. For the children, costumed characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog entertained, and best-selling authors like Byrd Baylor read aloud to the young audience, while illustrators helped children make their own drawings. A traveling printing press from California demonstrated how printing had evolved over the last 5,000 years.

Project documentation comprises seven pages of text, a list of people on the Planning Committee, brochures, newspaper features, a large poster, and 12 color snapshots.

Originally submitted by: John McCain, Senator.



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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