Yesterday I drove 8 hours–4 to St. Paul, leaving the house at 5:20 a.m., and 4 more to get home. The drive was with good company–Emilee and Karl–and for good cause: exhibiting New Rivers Press books and authors at the 12th annual Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival.
Emilee Ruhland and I prepare to meet and greet, not at all ashamed to attract customers with homemade oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. Photo by Al Davis.
The very first book festival I ever attended was on the Capitol lawn in Austin, Texas, promoted by First Lady Laura Bush. It was one of those life-changing events. I met authors face-to-face, chatted with them as though we were equals, and then realized that, hey!–we are equals! Well, except for the part that they have published books. This might sound odd, but knowing that authors are often just regular folks with the distinction of being disciplined writers who work at their craft somehow opened vistas of possibility.
Insert: Gratuitous photo of Laura and me. (photo by White House photographer in Sims, North Dakota)
This year’s Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival was relocated from its normal downtown spot to The Historic Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, my first-ever visit to this place outside my normal beaten path. In fact, there are about 320 acres with historic buildings and new bandstands to see. We got our bearings on Dan Patch Avenue, named for the Minnesota racing horse of world fame. Dan Patch, harnessed to a sulkie, never lost a race, and in 1906 even beat his own record! Check out this MN State Fair Walking Tour Brochure: http://visitmnhistory.org/sites/visitmnhistory.org.statefair/files/2012StateFair_WalkingTourBrochure.pdf
We met in the Historic Progress Center, with high vaulted ceilings, huge windows, and lots of space for the featured authors, panels & showcases, and about 100 press and author and bookselling exhibitors (really, it seemed like more!) Historic photo nabbed from http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1394&bih=907&tbm=isch&tbnid=y54Bve3MZLFCXM:&imgrefurl=http://visitmnhistory.org/statefair/stops/5&docid=rZrsy6vtM0vY9M&imgurl=http://visitmnhistory.org/statefair/sites/visitmnhistory.org.statefair/files/imagecache/640x/MSFIMAGE2009_1709jjj.jpg&w=640&h=508&ei=CeV6UJjON6LD2QWm4oGwDQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=180&vpy=465&dur=1081&hovh=200&hovw=252&tx=153&ty=152&sig=109408778231766546925&page=1&tbnh=139&tbnw=171&start=0&ndsp=32&ved=1t:429,r:13,s:0,i:108
Since I was representing New Rivers Press (it’s where I work), I’ll show you some of our famous authors:
Here’s Tim Nolan, holding his newest collection of poetry with us, And Then. Obviously, the paparazzi were busy!
Had to take this photo twice–Tim was having such a good time, he forgot to hold up his book!
Nick Healy signed some copies of his award-winning collection of short stories, It Takes You Over, for these complete strangers. (Okay, really, they’re his mom and dad.)
Jamee Larson and Nick met each other for the first time this day, even though they worked together for about four months. Jamee, along with two other New Rivers Press-MSUM Certificate in Publishing students, co-edited and prepared marketing materials for It Takes You Over. Here, Jamee is picking up some compliments for the book team from Nick AND her autographed copy.
Our day wasn’t all work and no play. Emilee took a few moments to spin the wheel and win a prize. What was she hoping for? Not the free tickets to the Guthrie Theater (too far to get to from Fargo); she wanted a bookmark! Way to go, true reading fan.
‘Round and ’round and ’round it goes—where it stops, nobody . . . What?! Emilee won a bookmark!
We weren’t alone on the job: Karl Bakkum (left) and Alan Davis took turns behind the desk, although we do note that many of our cookies disappeared during their period of service.
The day wasn’t just about New Rivers Press. There were sessions to attend, like this one: QUEER MINNESOTA: THE STATE OF LGBT WRITING, where local authors across genre discussed the ups and downs of writing and publishing as an LGBT artist; moderated by Harvard University professor Stephen Burt. There were multiple session topics and featured authors, and at the end of the day we saw a long line of people waiting to hear from Cheryl Strayed, of WILD fame–author of a travel narrative/memoir. The historic venue was good for crowd traffic and table locations, but I’m afraid there were too many distractions in the session areas–noises from the exhibit floor, poor acoustics, and a glorious (albeit gray) view out the windows.
Although I didn’t get home until about 10:40 last night, it was a trip well worth the while. Rain Taxi is already planning on events for 2013, and I plan to be there, too.
Some related online sites of interest: