By Sarah Jane Weill
Booklovers, rejoice! On October 5, 2013, the Bell Middle School parking lot will be filled with more than 70 children’s book authors all armed and ready to meet their readers. It will be an event never before seen here in Chappaqua, and is definitely something to get excited about!
The idea for the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival (or CCBF) stemmed from Tarrytown’s Sunnyside Book Day, an annual event lasting 15 years during which 50 to 60 children’s book authors and illustrators gathered at Washington Irving’s house to meet their fans. The beloved event was a great opportunity for writers and young readers to mingle in a unique environment. However, this past year Sunnyside announced that it would no longer be continuing the event. This unfortunate announcement had one positive effect: it led to the inspiration to bring about something similar to New Castle.
Come One, Come All
The premise of the CCBF is to create an event that will attract a wide spectrum of readers throughout Chappaqua as well as surrounding towns. With an impressive goal of around 3,000 attendees, the CCBF will be a strong community event. “We want this to be an event when everyone comes out,” commented Dawn Greenberg, one of the event’s volunteer organizers who helped bring this idea to life. The event will be a great place to meet people and a chance for the long-time Chappaqua families and the newer families to meet.
The schedule for the event is casual, flexible and accessible to all. Authors and illustrators will have their own tables and be available for book signings and conversations with fans, along with having books for sale. Some authors will be partaking in readings that are open to everyone; there will also be arts and crafts activities to enjoy. Local restaurants and food trucks will provide the food; in addition, all desserts will be literary-themed and sold by the Great American Bake Sale. Admission is free, so families are encouraged to come and go as they please, enjoying as much as they want in the fashion they want to.
The most exciting part about this event is the list of authors and illustrators expected to be in attendance; to name just a couple, Tony Abbott, author of the Secrets of Droon series, and Victoria Kann, author and illustrator of Pinkalicious, will both be there. With 70 authors already signed up and more on a waiting list, a wide range of books from all genres will be represented. All of the authors on the list are from around the area; a great number of fantastic children’s and Young Adult authors who live in Chappaqua are attending the event.
Many of the authors were originally a part of the Sunnyside Book Day; other authors have either been recruited by friends already planning on attending or by relatives living in the area who heard about the event. Most of these authors work from home, and are therefore thrilled to get the opportunity to interact with their fans. Their enthusiasm, coupled with the excitement of young readers, will make the CCBF that much more thrilling and rewarding.
A Group Effort
Getting an event like this up and running is no easy task. The entire preparation for the CCBF has been run completely through no-pay volunteer efforts, as the CCBF is run by a non-profit organization. All of the money needed for the event has been acquired through various fundraisers such as a special tea with some of the authors and an art auction that sold off pieces created by some of the illustrators.
People from all parts of the town have come together to help out with the preparations; Greenberg recalled that once she got the idea for the festival, she called her friends and immediately got positive responses. “This job is only possible because of the enthusiasm,” she remarked. The organization of the CCBF has largely been a group effort; the community’s excitement over this upcoming event clearly shows how hard people have worked to make the event a success.
Adding to the event’s remarkableness is its great efforts to give back to the literary community in the area. Three charities that work to promote literacy and encourage reading and writing–LitWorld, Behind the Book, and Pace Literary Center–will have their own spaces at the event. These charities are all crucial in the literary community, and the mutual support between them and the CBFF will come to benefit everyone.
Looking forward, if all is successful, those responsible for the CCBF are hoping to make this an annual event. This would not only make our town stronger, but it would also connect Chappaqua to the outside literary world; it could become a huge aspect of the fall festivities in town.
“October is the perfect time of the year, as it’s the lull between back to school and Christmas,” added Greenberg. It is an event that is very much needed in our community; it can be something that readers, writers, and people from all throughout Westchester can look forward to. So, book lover or not, mark your calendars and get ready for a new, exciting event here in Chappaqua!
Sarah Jane Weill is a senior at Horace Greeley High School. Growing up, her favorite book was If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.