Avid readers and those who only dabble in books are invited to a free event March 12 that will feature New York Times best-selling authors, local authors and several literary vendors who hope to increase literacy awareness.
The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Ladies of the Dove will sponsor the second annual Literary Festival from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Bradwell Institute.
“It gives our local authors a chance to connect to the community. Ninety percent [of the authors] are coming from the state of Georgia or surrounding states; it is pretty regional,” said A’ndrea Wilson, chairperson for the literary festival. “We would really like to promote literacy. We want this to be an opportunity for both children and parents to get more connected with reading.”
Although kids and their parents are invited, Wilson said there will be reading materials available for all age groups, which, she thinks, will draw a larger audience.
The festival will include keynote speaker Mary Monroe, a New York Times best-selling author who will travel to Hinesville from California. Other speakers will include national bestselling author and publishers Kendra Norman-Bellamy and Tina McElroy Ansa along with singer/songwriter Carmen Calhoun. Several local authors, including a poet, will be present to speak to writers about their works.
One of the biggest benefits the president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Alicia Johnson notes about the festival is the availability of the authors to speak with readers who are fans.
“You can go to Barnes & Noble to buy a book, but you may never know why that person wrote what they wrote in a particular part of the book. But you get to meet them and talk to them on a one-to-one level and get the idea of what that book was based off of,” Johnson said.
The chairperson of the festival, who is an author herself, said that the festival is being taken a step up from last year’s event and as someone who often attends other reading festivals, she met the authors previously, which is how they ended up in Hinesville.
The event also is tied to an essay contest held for elementary, middle and high school students, with a separate category for seniors to try their hand at writing to win mini-scholarships, Wilson said. Judging will take place for the contest on the day of the festival and students will be able to take home gift cards as well as cash awards for their winning pieces.
“We were excited about bringing the scholarship back. We’ve gotten some really great applications. It’s really interesting to see how creative the students can be and how they take the time to write,” Wilson said.
Literary vendors also will be present, including Barnes & Noble and the Hinesville Library, to allow attendees to purchase books. Jewelry, makeup and other items also will be available for purchase.
Rhonda Watson, an author and a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, came up with the idea for the festival last year but currently is deployed overseas, Johnson said. The mayor stopped in last year during the event, and Johnson said she hopes that many will return from last year and newcomers also will stop in.
“We just really encourage the community to come out … the more community support we get, the better,” Johnson said. “I’m most looking forward to the event to just basically get the community out and get them involved [in literacy]. I hope the community keeps receiving the event well and they look forward to it.”