The night before at the authors’ party, as we walked towards the state library, I watched as even in the dark the volunteers and state library personnel were working hard to set up tents and various and sundry other things that I and others would take for granted the next day. While I ate and drank and laughed in my dress and heels, those volunteers and staff were working. Even those at the party had a job to do. I can’t say enough how appreciative I am for what they do and how they do it. And, of course, everyone knows South Louisiana knows how to put on a party!
I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into a book festival of this size. Not only do the Louisiana State Library staff, and volunteers, have to corral and manage and feed and water and et cetera the writers who were presenting, but there were other exhibitors, and there was food, and music, and books and people and—this Louisiana Book Festival is a huge event. Last year they estimated over 21,000 people attended and thousands of books were sold. I don’t know the numbers in the aftermath of 2009’s festival, especially with our weak economy, but even half that would be impressive to me.
GMR and I parked in the spot designated for those who had a special parking pass. Already I felt embraced. A bit “special.” We headed in to the state capitol building to look for the author’s lounge area, where they had volunteers to give writer’s their lanyards with their name and “presenter” or whatever, and where there was coffee, soft drinks (or in Louisiana they also call everything “coke”), and food. I have to give a shout out again to the volunteers and state library staff—at every turn someone asked, “Can I get you anything? Do you need a ride? Can I help you find something?” It was amazing.
Once settled in, GMR and I decided to walk the festival, find the booksigning tent, and just look about until it was time for my panel. My cotton-cloud head was feeling a bit clearer, but I do admit I was a little nervous—would people come to my panel? Would the other author on my panel like how I presented myself? Would anyone come to my booksigning table afterwards? It’s an author pressure I never knew about until I became an author, and it squeezes my innards into a tight ball of anxiety–I don’t want to let anyone down, not the State Library, the bookseller, the publisher, et cetera.
The Louisiana State Capitol grounds are unique and the area is the perfect place for a festival. They can close it off to traffic, and more important, it is just a lovely place to have an event. The capitol grounds’ gardens are stunning—big granddaddy oaks with heavy limbs touching the ground, magnolias, other flowering plants and trees, the big phallic symbol of Huey Long rising up to the sky (teehee), and a statue of Huey himself facing his symbol of power.
Stretched out on the road before the capitol grounds were tents full of books, food, music, and drink. And threading throughout all of this were the people. Soon, it was time to head back to the capitol building to prepare for my panel. I’ll talk about that tomorrow . . .