Spring break at Tucson’s University of Arizona means only one thing to me. It’s time for the Tucson Festival of Books. This year marks the sixth annual! The festival has rocketed to one of the top book festivals in our country. For one weekend the UA mall and the buildings surrounding it become a mecca for book lovers. There are hundreds of vendor and food booths. There’s special areas for our National Parks, Science City, Children, Culinary Tent, author talks, book signing booths and more. The classrooms are transformed into learning labs, panel discussions and individual author interviews. The entire festival is staffed by volunteers and it’s ran with the precision of a military operation. The logistics alone are amazing.
Science City has grown over the years. This year the festival begins on March 14 and it will be a celebration of Pi. It’s a fun place for the entire family. There are always plenty of booths offering hands on activities for all ages. Last year one of the booths would test your cell phone for bacteria. The numbers, representing contamination, were all over the place. I scored a 96. There were some recorded over a 1000, yucky!
Who knew you could have such fun with food coloring and shaving cream. Works of art created within minutes.
The children’s area is filled with booths about books, fun reading activities for children and physical activities too to get the kids moving. Children authors read and discuss books under a huge tent throughout the weekend. You really need to get a schedule and plan your two days in advance.
Beyond Bread is a locally owned company and they have been manning a booth at the Festival from the very first year. There are plenty of culinary choices in the food court and a huge tent with tables and chairs to ingest your purchases. Love this sign created from bread.
The Culinary Tent is one of my favorites. If you’re lucky, you can be chosen to taste test whatever the featured chef is cooking. There’s a half hour break between presentations. You need to get there early to grab a seat. Here is Chef Maria from Tucson’s Boca, Lupita Murillo, our infamous reporter from Tucson’s KVOA news who emceed this event and Hugo Ortega, author of Street Food of Mexico.
If you have the author’s book, you can get it autographed after the event. If you don’t have the book, the Festival makes it easy. You can buy one on site!
You can meet your favorite author’s too. Here is Haile Thomas. This girl is one of my young, local heroes. She believes in healthy cooking, wrote a cookbook, teaches classes to children and adults and has even been feted at the White House. I snagged her latest book this day and had her sign it too. She is a role model for our local children and inspires them to eat foods that are good for your body, mind and spirit.
Then there is this guy, Roger Naylor! He has the best job in the state of Arizona. He spends most of his days hiking, writes about it and has published three books. This man has been all over our state. He currently has three books and just inked a contract for one about the Grand Canyon Kolb Brothers. He will be at the festival this year signing his latest, Boots and Burgers, An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers. I will be taking my copy to have it signed.
Each year I arrive at the festival early, no parking hassles. Did I mention all UA parking is free during the event as well as the Festival of Books? I stay till the end. As of yet, I have never been able to get someone to carry me back to my car! Never give up hope. The Festival is a true literary gift to our community. It is manned with 100% volunteers and thousands of dollars of donations. There’s normally a two week break after the festival and then the planning begins for the following year. All the money raised by booth fees, festival book sales and donations are distributed to Tucson Literary programs. It’s a true win/win for our community. Come join the fun this year, March 14 and 15th. If you have been to our book festival, would enjoy reading your comments. If you can recommend a book festival in your community, would like to hear about it too.