#312–FFOB Last Hurrah––let’s hope not . . .

The following Letter to the Editor (actually letter to the community) appeared in Florence’s twice weekly newspaper the Siuslaw News last Saturday, November 13. It was written by me, co-founder and co-chair of the popular event:

Florence Festival of Books needs committee members . . .

The Florence Festival of Books for authors and publishers returned this past September. Much was the same, but much was different. It had the same events—Friday afternoon panel discussion, Friday evening Keynote Speaker, and book fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. And all events were held at the Florence Events Center.

One of the characteristics of the FFOB is that it is a book fair for publishers, such as First Steps Publishing seen here.

But there were differences. Everyone, participants as well as attendees, wore masks. And there was a much wider space for walking from table to table because one-third of the tables had been eliminated. This allowed for social distancing.

The crowds for all events were small. But those that attended seemed pleased to be there and bought books. Friday’s events, held also with masks and social distancing, allowed nearly everyone to participate in the question-answer segments. Comments heard over and over were how pleased both participants and attendees were that the Festival of Books was happening in 2021. There was a happy vibe!

And we always have many more authors than publishers, such as H.S. Contino seen here. She has participated nearly every year since we began in 2011.

It was not easy. The committee spent much of the spring debating whether to have the festival. In May, they decided to plan for it with Covid restrictions and be ready to pull the plug at a moment’s notice. They got the applications out a month late and were amazed when it was booked up within weeks. The committee did the usual planning and were ready. Then the Delta Variant hit and participants started dropping out and Public Health tightened restrictions. The committee didn’t know until the week of the event if it would actually happen. (This paragraph was deleted before I sent to the paper, in order to keep it to 300 words or less.)

In spite of Covid, rain, and small crowds, the Florence Festival of Books was a success for its 10th milestone year. Held each September at the Florence Events Center, it has become one of Florence’s major events.

This was the committee in 2019. Of these members, six are still on the committee. (One member is taking the photo.) Of those six, three have day-jobs that take so much of their time that they are not able to contribute as much to the committee as before. Of the other three, all are having to cut back due to age or family illnesses or other commitments. So, unless we have more members, we will definitely not be able to continue with the Florence Festival of Books.

That brings us to the purpose of this letter: The FFOB Planning Committee needs new members. Some members are no longer able to continue and others are having to cut back due to day-jobs. Without more members, there may not be a Festival of Books next year. The committee meets only half of the year––once a month April-May, twice a month June–August, and once a week in September prior to the event with an evaluation meeting afterwards. Next year’s festival is scheduled for September 23-24. All interested in helping keep this popular event alive, contact the Florence Events Center, 541-997-1994 or aleia@eventcenter.org.     ––Judy Fleagle, FFOB Co-founder & Co-chair


Aleia will forward each call or email to me.

Here is Kathryn Damon-Dawson who pitched an idea in 2011 at the 1st FFOB to publisher Bob Serra. The next year, 2012, she was there with her book for sale. Her idea had become a book. Here she is with Bob.

I am the only original member still on the Florence Festival of Books Planning Committee and will be stepping down as co-chair. I will stay on the committee but need to cut back after 10 years. As co-founder, I consider it “my baby” and hate to see it die.

New members will not be overwhelmed with responsibility but will be eased into whatever role they feel they can fulfill. Think it over, maybe you would be just the right person to help.

The Florence Festival of Books is a wonderful event for the town of Florence and is considered one of the best book festivals in the state! But it will only continue with more members on the committee.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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