This Saturday, October 29th, is the 18th annual Louisiana Book Festival! Filled with lots of fun activities for participants of all ages, this event takes place from 9am to 4pm in downtown Baton Rouge at the State Library and Capitol Park Museum. The Festival took a short hiatus during Covid and hosted a virtual event last year but Assistant Director Robert Wilson and Executive Director Jim Davis are excited to have their beloved festival take place in-person again.
BEFORE THE FEST: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28
The LA Book Festival is starting off strong with festivities leading up to the main events on Saturday. On Friday, October 28th, there will be several WordShops led by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors who will help guide amateur writers on their path to mastering their craft. Gerard Collins, Emily Nemens, Jericho Brown and Robert Olen Butler will each be leading a three-hour workshop based on different beginner writing topics. Each WordShop costs $50 and will be in the time windows of either 9 a.m. to noon, or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Readers can also choose to participate in One Book, One Festival, where readers are asked to participate by reading the designated book for this semester and having an open discussion at the festival. This year, the discussion will be based on the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, as this year marks its 75th anniversary. There will also be an author’s party before the festival where readers can pay to attend and get a chance to speak to their favorite authors.
The festival also features a variety of food, activities, and musical appearances. Leading up to the week of the festival, musician Rick Kelley will be playing at libraries throughout the state in order to bring awareness of the festival to young children that may not have access to books all the time.
OPENING CEREMONY: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29
For the opening ceremony, the festival will kick off celebrations with the announcement of the 23rd Annual LA Writer Award recipient, David Armand. This Louisiana native is known for his poetry and fiction novels centered around upbeat, hopeful themes. His work consists of four novels, two poetry books and a memoir, with several other projects on the way. The opening ceremony will also include the presentation of five National Student Poets, each from different parts of the country. These aspiring writers have not been together since their induction ceremony, and Baton Rouge is excited to be hosting these prestigious young poets.
FEATURED AUTHORS & PANELISTS
Featuring books from more than 190 authors, the Louisiana Book Festival will have works from your favorite Louisianians and more! All of the authors that are coming in for the festival are given the opportunity to bring a poster with them to help showcase their newest or most popular piece of work. These posters will be hung up together in the library to create a fun and festive photo wall. There will also be a handmade poster designed specifically for the festival itself by local artist Nonney Odloken. The entire cast of authors will be available for a 45-minute book signing and discussion provided by Cavalier House Books, an independent bookseller from Denham Springs, Louisiana.
GUEST AUTHOR: GERARD COLLINS
This year, the LA Book Festival is excited to announce a partnership with the Frye Festival, taking place all the way in New Brunswick, Canada, to bring award-winning guest author Gerard Collins to Baton Rouge. He will be leading a WordShop on conquering the typical fears of new writers, and will also be presenting his mystery book, The Hush Sisters: A novel. The LA Book Festival has partnered with the Frye Festival in the past to send local authors over to Canada, but this is the first time that a prominent Canadian author has come to visit our great state!
FEATURED AUTHOR & PUBLISHER: ARTHUR HARDY
New Orleans native and nationally-recognized author and publisher Arthur Hardy is known for his Mardi Gras Guide magazine and will be in attendance to discuss his involvement in the making of Rex: 150 Years of the School of Design.
FEATURED AUTHOR: RUTH LANEY
Covering the history of renowned Louisiana author Ernest J. Gaines, Ruth Laney will also be at the festival to discuss her biography of his life.
FEATURED AUTHOR: HAKEEM OLUSEYI
Hakeem Oluseyi, an astrophysicist from New Orleans, will also be discussing his new memoir covering his life in poverty and how he came to have a shining career.
FEATURED PANELIST: KEITH PLESSY AND PHOEBE FERGUSON
New Orleans natives Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, co-founders of the Plessy & Ferguson Foundation, are both direct descendants of the participants from the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson case and will be speaking about bringing racial equality to our nation through their foundation.
FEATURED AUTHOR: LANCE PEKUS
Coming all the way from Salmon, Idaho, is YA author Lance Pekus, known primarily for his participation on the hit TV Show, American Ninja Warrior. He is releasing his first ever novel, The Ninja Games: The Warrior Within, perfect for young readers that crave adventure.
FEATURED AUTHOR: ROBERT OLEN BUTLER
Robert Olen Butler, a fiction writer and short-story creator from Illinois, will also be in attendance to discuss his newest releases.
FEATURED AUTHOR: DONNA EVERHART
The Saints of Swallow Hill author Donna Everhart will be traveling all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina to discuss her book.
FEATURED AUTHOR: CARL BRASSEAUX
Carl Brasseaux will be visiting to promote his newest book, Asian-Cajun Fusion: Shrimp from the Bay to the Bayou, written alongside Donald W. Davis.
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS & TEENS
There will also be books and activities available for young children. Characters from popular kid’s books will be making an appearance, and children will be able to explore the art of papermaking. In true festival fashion, kids can enjoy face painting and balloon art, and they can always take home merchandise from the festival as well to encourage them to read more. Last but certainly not least, teenagers will have access to the Teen HQ for all of the YA readers to view books and chat with fellow readers. Families interested in bringing their children to see the Halloween parade are in luck because the festival will end at 4 p.m., right when the parade starts, so kids and their parents can get a taste of both.
The Louisiana Book Festival focuses mainly on authors and their books, but there will also be performances from artists of all different genres, including jazz and indie-rock. Narrative 4 is recognizing its tenth anniversary, and decided to host its celebration at the festival! This nationwide networking program is a storytelling initiative that was created to celebrate storytelling among young authors and spread awareness of social isolation and stereotypes that are common with children and young adults.
It wouldn’t be a Louisiana festival without some delicious dining options, all of which will be sponsored by Roux 61 Seafood & Grill. Suzanne Duplantis will be demonstrating the best ways to level up your leftovers, while Elizabeth Williams is going to add some flare to grandma’s classic Italian dishes. Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse owner Jarred Zeringue will be showing off his butcher’s cuts, and Molly Kimball will be giving healthy tips and tricks for living in a city with too many options! Al Copeland, Jr. will also be presenting his newest cookbook and discussing his claim to fame through the Popeye’s lineage. Make sure to stick around for all the tasty treats of the day, as well as cooking demonstrations and speeches from all these incredible chefs.
With countless other authors attending, the Louisiana Book Festival will be packed with activities and merchandise for every single participant. Attendants will be able to park on the street or in the Galvez Parking garage for free during festival hours. For more information on the festival and how to get involved, visit http://louisianabookfestival.org/.