This weekend, the 13th annual Twin Cities Book Festival hits the State Fairgrounds. It's the largest literary event in the upper Midwest, and is your chance to mingle with authors and book lovers alike in a day-long extravaganza of readings, signings, socializing, and more. The family-friendly affair, presented by Rain Taxi, brings is expected to bring in about 7,000 people.
The festival started in 2000. "We realized that all these other cities had book festivals, which was ironic because this was a book town," says Eric Lorberer, editor of Rain Taxi. Believing that the Twin Cities deserved its own festival, volunteers from local book publishers worked with Rain Taxi to get the first event started. It's been growing ever since.
For years, the festival took place at MCTC, but last year it was moved to the fairgrounds -- a sign of its growth. The event has expanded once again this year, and will be taking up two different buildings. There's will also be a larger area for children's activities, and two stages where readings will take place.
Lorberer says this year boasts an incredibly diverse group of stuff including a wide range of authors, from Hollywood screenwriter Delia Ephron to Romanian novelist Mircea Cartarescu. "That is what excites me about it," Lorberer says. "It's an opportunity to gather every aspect of what we're interested in in the book world."
The festival has always had storytelling, and this year there'll also be lots of music, crafts, games, and activities like face painting. The aim of the Children's Pavilion, which is presented in partnership with Metro Public Libraries (MELSA), is "blending the book experience with what kids know and like," Lorberer says.
Book publishers in Minnesota are varied as well. "There's everything from small independents to three of the largest independent presses in the country," he says.
However, there won't be much of an e-book presence at the festival, says Lorberer, though he notes that this newer technology is something that the book world is dealing with right now. "It's a tumultuous time," he says.
While some publishers will be selling e-books at the festival, "I think, in general, that the tradition or fun of a book festival is in the tactile experience," Lorberer says. "Most eBooks are sold directly online, whereas at a book festival you have the opposite experience, not only of dealing with the physical presence of the authors, but you're actually holding the book you're buying. It's rooted in the pleasure of the physical experience."
In addition to the author readings, the festival will have food all day long from various vendors; the Local Lit Lounge, where local writers will take turns doing book signings; and an all day Scrabble game. Friday, the day before the festival, there's will be a soiree at Chowgirls Parlor (1224 Second St. NE, Minneapolis) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. where there will be cocktails, food, and conversation (tickets are $40).
For more details about the full schedule of events, check out the Twin Cities Book Festival's website.
IF YOU GO:
Twin Cities Book Festival Minnesota State Fairgrounds Free 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 12