Friday, May 14, 2010

Why You Should Be in Gaithersburg on May 15th

By Jud Ashman.

Folks, the Gaithersburg Book Festival is no longer just an opportunity to throw tomatoes at our favorite blogger, Adam Pagnucco (speaking at 2pm in the James Michener Tent). It has grown into what may be the greatest one-day assortment of literary talent in the history of Montgomery County. No joke, no hyperbole.

We are talking more than 50 authors who will be speaking and signing books on the grounds of Gaithersburg City Hall. (If you want names, take a few minutes and go to the web site.) If I haven’t convinced you yet, check out the HIGHLIGHTS of their accomplishments:

- Last week, our keynote speaker was on Oprah and The View – and if you missed it, you can catch him this Sunday (according to his web site) on Meet the Press.
- Last month, one of our authors won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.
- We have a National Book Award winner, who also happens to have been a finalist for the Pulitzer three times.
- We have a Newbery Medal winner, which if you don’t remember is the most coveted prize in children’s literature.
- At least three of our authors made major Best Books of 2009 lists – and several are destined to make the 2010 lists.
- There are many who’ve written best-sellers and several who’ve had books adapted into major motion pictures and plays.

We also have a ton of great new talent who are destined to become household names. See them here first! With summer right around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to pick out your summer/vacation reading.

But wait! There’s more!
Workshops for aspiring writers.
• A Children’s Village with fun and creative activities for kids of all ages.
• A Coffee House that will feature song and verse from local talent.
• A ton of really interesting exhibitors and wonderful sponsors.
• Food, food, food! (Some of which comes in the form of samples from our culinary authors.)
• Book sales on site from Barnes & Noble and Friends of the Library.

Oh, and by the way, the Gaithersburg Book Festival is free of charge!

Now, since we’re posting on MPW, here’s the policy angle as I see it: The first rule of economic development for an area is “Give people a reason to be there.” The DC Metro area is at the very top of the list of the “Most Literate Cities in the U.S.” Last September, the National Book Festival on the Mall drew 130,000 attendees… IN THE RAIN! Mind you, we’re not even remotely trying to draw 130,000 people to Gaithersburg on May 15th. (Maybe next year…) But come on, people, let’s show D.C. how MC rolls!

And the interest doesn’t stop at our borders. Looking at the GBF web site stats, almost 20% of the people considering our program are coming from DC, almost 10% are coming from Virginia, more than 5% are coming from New York, and we’ve even heard from people as far away as Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Michigan. In fact, our program coordinator received a voice mail the other day from someone in Philadelphia asking for directions to Gaithersburg City Hall!

All this is to say that, as we grow the Gaithersburg Book Festival over the years, we all have an opportunity to take a major step forward in branding our Montgomery County community as a cultural destination of regional and, yes, national importance.

We want YOU with us! And we want your friends, and your families, and your neighbors with us too - on May 15th, and every year after.

“Or,” you might be thinking, “cut the crap, Jud. I’m just going to heckle Adam!” We’ll take that too. We’re not all that picky!

Jud Ashman
Gaithersburg City Council
Chair, Gaithersburg Book Festival