By Karen Wallace, Director, Osborne Public Library
On October 10, 2009 the day was rainy and freezing, but inside the Osborne, KS High School’s Old Gym, the renamed Sunflower State Book Festival was warm, inviting and deemed a success by the festival committee.
The first Kansas Book Festival was held in Wichita, KS in 2006 and brought together authors, small publishers, illustrators and the public to celebrate the rich literary legacy of Kansas and to encourage new writers to enter the field and write about the Sunflower State. The festival was held again in 2007, but not in 2008.
In early 2009 a few Kansas authors called for the festival to be restarted. Osborne, a small town in the Solomon Valley of North Central Kansas, was asked to hold the event. In July, with little time and funds to pull a big event off, a committee was selected to begin the work for the festival.
Nearly 30 Kansas authors, publishers and others from across the state attended the event and sold and autographed copies of their books. Some of the genres available to the public included: children’s, young adult, poetry, action/adventure, genealogy, Kansas and Western history, and many more.
Admission to the event was free for the general public. Signed copies of the authors’ books were given away at the top of the hour as door prizes.
At 11 a.m. the presentation of the first Don Coldsmith Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement was held. Roy Bird, Kansas Center for the Book & Library Services and Technology Act Coordinator, introduced the first recipient of the award, Dr. Jim Hoy, an English professor from Emporia State University. Von Rothenberger of Ad Astra Publishing, Osborne, the award’s sponsor, was on hand to present the award to Dr. Hoy. The Osborne Public Library hosted an open house for Dr. Hoy on October 9th in honor of his award. Dr. Hoy conducted an informal question & answer session with 25 – 30 people in attendance at the open house.
The Sunflower State Book Festival was sponsored by The Kansas Humanities Council, the Northern Kansas Association, the Kansas Center for the Book, the Central Kansas Library System, the Downs Carnegie Library, the Osborne Public Library, the Farmers Bank of Osborne, and the State Bank of Downs.
The festival committee is already planning for next year. In 2010, the festival will be on October 9.
Pictures of the authors who were in attendance and future announcements will be posted on the festival web site at www.sunflowerbookfest.com.