The Decatur Book Festival, which ended on Sunday, was so overwhelmingly excellent that is took me almost half of a week to recover sufficiently to write about. Where to start? This year’s fest seemed to be the best attended yet. There were lines snaking down the street for several author events, the children’s stage was always hopping, and the vendors booths were better than ever.
As seen on the poster, “Bookzilla” was the official mascot of this year’s fest. #bookzilla was the official Twitter hashtag of the weekend (but I really don’t know what that means). The giant inflatable Bookzilla towering over the old Decatur Court House served notice that this is not a book festival that takes itself too seriously. Books are fun!
Vendor/exhibitor tents lined Ponce de Leon and the Square. By my totally subjective count and remembrance of year’s past, there were many more vendors/exhibitors this year. I was happy to see McSweeney’s was back in the mix, and I happily gave them a pile of my money. An interesting new vendor to the fest (new to me anyway) was the Dust-to-Digital tent. Dust-to-Digital are a local (and Grammy-winning) record label that specializes in releasing “rare and essential” recordings of American music. They have a new book out, Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950, that looks very cool.
One of the highlights of the weekend for my family was checking in with Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese Cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua. Judy Schachner (Skippyjon’s author and illustrator) sang, drew, and read at her packed appearance. Skippyjon himself made an appearance at the signature table. He needed the Friskies, because he was there for a long, long time.
Schachner signed books at her table for at least 3 1/2 hours after her reading (and she had signed books at an author brunch earlier in the day, too). Aye, Carumba! One reason why she may have been there so long is that she drew a picture of Skippyjon in each book she signed.
This inscription started a two day debate over the proper spelling of the word moustache/mustache. (The author used my preferred spelling. Who Moustache is a whole other story.)
The offices of Lenz Marketing, the gang responsible for the look and feel of the festival, displayed some of the artwork that made onto this year’s promotional materials and signage (besides Bookzilla). I am partial to this book-carrying gorilla that I didn’t see anywhere else.
I also dug the studious Book Worm.
Speaking of art: The world’s greatest children’s bookstore, The Little Shop of Stories was mobbed all weekend long. On Sunday James Dean, the illustrator for the wildly popular local children’s book Pete the Cat: I love my White Shoes, was painting a new Pete the Cat canvas. Kids were beside themselves.
And there were authors everywhere. Did I mention that? Many were getting the rock star treatment with lines down the block. Sadly my pictures of these events mostly feature blurry and poorly lit blobs at a podium.
Hats off to Directors Tom Bell and Daren Wang for putting on what, for me, was the liveliest and most fun Decatur Book Festival yet. I’m looking forward to next year already.