by Elizabeth Stone
In September the UWG Bookstore hosted an inaugural Bookfest, a book festival featuring over 25 local and regional authors and their works. Students, faculty, staff and community members were invited to meet the authors and many received personally autographed books by the authors in attendance. WOLF Internet radio provided music for the event and guests were treated to snacks and refreshments.
Mark Rhodes, manager of the UWG Bookstore, hopes that the Bookfest will become an annual or even semiannual event. He first began organizing the Bookfest to provide an opportunity for local talent to shine.
“I attended a meeting of the Carrollton Creative Writers Guild and posed the idea to them,” he says. “I also went to a Douglasville literary festival and attended their workshops to invite them as well. After word started to spread through social media, our list of authors continued to grow.”
Josh Niesse, owner of Underground Books in downtown Carrollton, believes that the event has the capacity to grow and to continue to reach members of the community.
“We have tons of people writing books in our community, oftentimes about our region, so it’s good to support that,” Josh says. “I hope this event continues to grow and that we can get a greater attendance from students and alumni to support the movement for ‘shop local,’ ‘eat local’ and now ‘read local.’”
UWG professors and staff members were also among the authors featured during the Bookfest. Suzanne Durham, UWG assistant professor and head of Special Collections, spoke on the opportunity that the Bookfest also provides for students. As the author of “Around Carrollton” and “Carrollton Then & Now,” she hopes that the Bookfest will continue to grow.
“I can definitely see doing this more than once a year,” she says. “It can only help students who have aspirations to be writers or to be creative in any way. My books are pictures, but it’s still creative. In fact, one of our students was a co-author on one of my books. She was a photography major and helped me while she was in school at UWG. Now she’s gone on to be very successful.”
The Bookfest not only serves to connect the community with local authors, but also as a networking platform for the authors themselves. John Bell, author of “Shoeless Summer” and “Pickle It” and principle at Vabella Publishing, said that the Bookfest showcases the broad base of talent in Carrollton.
“As a publisher, I know that there is a great sea of writing talent in this area and so many people don’t even realize that they’re here,” says John. “It’s a concentration of amazing writers that are right here that have such great work that needs to be put into print.”