Yes, the Radford Reads Festival had the expected panels, speakers, and workshops (which I’ll get to soon), but it had so much more–just ask any of the attendees who came for the classic cars. . .
. . . or the blacksmithing, music, quilters, or Civil War reenactors.
There were crafters selling soaps, lotions, jewelry, and leather goods—and books, of course.
This breadth resulted from the joining of Radford Reads with the Celebrate Radford Festival, two events in their 3rd and 4th years, respectively. Both events are free and open to the public.
And then there was the location!
Both events were held on the grounds of the Glencoe Museum, housed in the post-war home of Brigadier General Gabriel C.Wharton, C.S.A., built in the 1870s. The museum includes an art gallery, and for the festival, there was art on the grounds as well.
I arrived a day early and toured the museum and art gallery with great pleasure. Even in the midst of preparing for the festival the next day, Scott Gardner, director of the museum, and Maryann Whited graciously guided me.
I loved the woodwork—and the 12 to 13-foot ceilings—as well as the objects, such as this horn, carved in the shape of a fish.
And fascinating historical artifacts—fascinating for me anyway. Note the exhibit about niter (also called saltpeter). I mentioned train loads of niter in my story “War and Murder at Nimrod Hall” in Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II.
But to the book festival itself.
Because you are reading this, I assume you are a reader and/or writer, so these are the things that might interest you most.
Karen White presented the keynote address. She was terrific! If you have an opportunity to hear her, do. She’s had a number of best-sellers. Her most recent is Flight Patterns. A number of seats had slips of paper taped under them, each giving the holder a free copy of her book—and I was lucky enough to get one! This seems like a great ploy for speaking events. Karen White’s favorite author is Diana Gabaldon, and she says she tries to write the sort of book she likes to read, so I am looking forward to this gift read.
Immediately after that, Linda Thornburg and I presented our workshop on pathways to publication. I thought the attendance was a bit light, but the festival organizer was quite pleased with our attendance compared to the subsequent workshops. Several members of various Sisters in Crime chapters were there, even though our Central Virginia Chapter members were all busy elsewhere. Other workshops covered writing poetry and memoir.
At 1:00, I spoke on the mystery panel. The moderator/host of all the book sessions was David Horton. He was amazing. He had really done his homework on all the presenters. He even mentioned that we share a love of carved wooden Santas!
I enjoyed sharing the panel with Webb Hubbell, Stewart Goodwin, and Mollie Cox Bryan. Check out their books. This panel was sponsored by the Rockwell family.
Other sessions were for writers of children’s and young adult fiction, Southern fiction, memoir, history, and poetry.
The festival had many sponsors. Radford Reads was inspired by the Rockwell family in honor of Jean Rockwell, a former Radford Public Library employee who loved the Virginia Festival of the Book. Besides the Rockwells, other sponsors were the Cheryl Blackwell Book Club, the Jervey Family, Ben Crenshaw Art Studio, The Lamplighters, Radford University Foundation, the Radford Heritage Foundation, Ridge and Valley Reader, the Radford Visitor’s Center, and LaQuinta Inn & Suites—at which I had a very pleasant stay!
It was a real community and family event. Reader or Writer, next year, check it out! It’s a two-fer, and the price is right.