Based on independent research, book festivals are becoming a national pastime, with at least 70 festivals happening across the 50 United States.
In the case of the South Dakota, in 2003 the state’s Humanities Council Center decided to initiate their style of festival as, "... an opportunity to celebrate reading, writing and the literary arts on a grand scale."
Since that time, the council has become a well-oiled promotion machine, deseminating festival information to the general public and building a fan base via their website (http://sdhumanities.org/festival-of-books//), their highly interactive social media sites, an entertaining blog and a subscription-based email newsletter. The result of their efforts is an audience of over 4,000 book lovers who attend the festival over its four-day run.
For authors like me, who are presenting and exhibiting at the festival, council organizers are an incredibly proficient and supportive group. They regularly email and mail information on exhibition and presentation locations and times, festival dos and dont's and must-see tourist attractions. Additionally, they ably herd we authors through individual email check-ins with specific follow up details.
As a book festival newbie, there have been times when I have had unanswered questions. Without exception festival staff, festival staff, from the director, Jennifer Woster Widman to the office manager, Carolyn Speakman have answered my calls and provided me information with a heartfelt enthusiasm that has made me feel welcome right from the start. A nice feeling for a gal from back east!
After fifteen years of presenting close to one thousand authors, the SDFB definitely stands out as a festival that fulfills its mission of "celebrating the written word in South Dakota, extoling the rich heritage of the state, and encouraging authorship, literacy and reading. And I can't wait to be part of this year’s celebration.