Siuslaw News | The next chapter opens at the Florence Book Festival
September 22, 2021 – The Florence Book Festival 2021 took place on September 18-19 at the Florence Events Center, featuring special speakers, an inspiring opening speech, social distancing and a mask mandate in place.
Although the uncertainty surrounding COVID protocols raised concerns until a few days before the event, the decision was made to present the Book Festival committee decided to go ahead with the event. As such, the committee changed the format and logistics for this year, with a reduction in the number of authors on hand and an increase in the space allocated to each table, which allowed for recommended social distancing.
This 2021 festival featured a panel discussion on Friday afternoon with Florence Festival of Books co-chair Judy Fleagle and popular local Oregon authors Bob Welch and William Sullivan.
Crowds this year were a little smaller than in previous years, according to Fleagle, but the pace and interest of the participants was as lively as in previous years.
âWe asked, ‘Should we have a big indoor event while the pandemic is still going on? If we do, will anyone come? ‘ âSaid Flagei. “The committee decided last spring to go with restrictions and be prepared to unplug at any time.”
The committee expected a third fewer attendees and COVID security requirements throughout the event.
âSurprisingly, there have been no complaints about the masks and people have distanced themselves socially. But, best of all, there was a really happy vibe, âsaid Fleagle.
The panel discussion was a welcome start to the weekend, which highlighted new books, traditional and self-publishing techniques, and strategies for marketing and distributing authors’ works. The audience engaged in a question-and-answer session and the authors freely shared their advice.
Sullivan and Welch attended the festival often and the afternoon panel featured reviews of their older works and some anecdotal reminiscences that then led to books.
The event also featured an opening speech by Melody Carlson, author of over 200 books for teens, children and women. In his youth, Carlson moved to Springfield, Oregon, and currently resides in Sisters. His works have generated over $ 7.5 million in sales and many have been selected for film production.
âThe attendees and attendees seemed to enjoy it all – the panel discussion with Bob Welch and Bill Sullivan, keynote speaker Melody Carlson on Friday and the Book Fair on Saturday,â said Fleagle. âSo despite all the angst, it went well. People showed up for all the activities – not as much as in the past, not as much as we wanted, but considering COVID and the stormy weather, everything was fine. “
Fleagle founded the Florence Festival of Books and is one of Oregon’s best-selling self-published authors. His book “Crossings” tells the interior history of Oregon’s five major coastal bridges designed by architect CJ McCollough. It is an eternal bestseller, selling thousands of copies since its publication.
She also went back to what she saw as the takeaway from the event, which was that the best part was the upbeat vibe – and all the books.
The authors and publishers were happy to have their books on display again and to be able to talk to the people who read those books. And festival-goers loved to talk to the people who wrote or published the books they bought.
For more information, visit www.florencefestivalofbooks.org.