Festival back by popular demand

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November 8, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Once was not enough for Roger Carswell and Becky Nilges, who are organizing the second bi-annual Iola Family Reading Festival.
The two said the decision was almost decided for them.
“Some of the evaluations from the 2010 festival said ‘can’t wait until next year’ and ‘hope you do this again,’” Carswell said. “We felt like people expected this to be a yearly thing.”
In 2010, Nilges said about 300 to 400 people came out to enjoy the festivities at Allen Community College. Iolans value the fine arts, including reading, Nilges said, crediting their enthusiasm for the festival’s success.
Both Nilges and Carswell said they were excited to see how well the community responded to the festival, despite doubts during the planning process.
“We really didn’t have any idea how it would go over,” Nilges said. “It really turned into something good.”
The first festival was funded mainly through a grant acquired by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. However, Nilges said this year the festival does not have the grant to support it financially. Nilges and Carswell have been working hard to garner support from local institutions and residents. Through their fundraising efforts, Carswell said they did well enough to carry their plans forward.
The reading festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 17, on the ACC campus. The main focus of the festival is to hear authors discuss their books. Activities, primarily for children, also are based on various book themes.
Carswell said he personally “recruited” 16 authors to speak during the festival, which will fill the entire day.
Steven Michael Farney, an authority on the history of basketball, will be speaking about his book “Club 50: 50 Point Single Game Scorers in Kansas Boys Basketball History.” His speaking topics will include players from Colony, Yates Center, Uniontown and Waverly — who are all featured in his book.
The festival will also feature historical authors, as well as children’s authors, fiction authors and Christian inspirational author, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Authors’ books will be available for purchase by Watermark Books, out of Wichita, and the authors will be signing their work as well.
Nilges said they have included many new events this year as well. A book dealer from Andover will be attending to appraise people’s old and rare books as a part of the “Rare Book Road Show.” Attendees will have the opportunity to bring two or three of their finest books to see if they might have some hidden gems.
Also new this year, Carswell said there will be a “6 by 6” Ready to Read room for parents and children to attend. The presentations will emphasize the six skills children need to develop before age 6 that will help them learn to read. For those who aren’t as technologically inclined as some, there will also be a program dedicated to teaching people how to use e-readers, titled “Downloadable Books made EZ.”

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