#343––The ups and downs of the FFOB . . .

At the end of last year, I had serious doubts that the Florence Festival of Books could continue with such a small number of committee members. That would be a shame, because it is considered to be one of the best in the state. So, I put a letter to the community in the Siuslaw News telling about our need.  I wrote about it in my blog posts and asked everyone I thought would be a good fit. We received one response from the newspaper letter, Vickie Kennedy, who is now our wonderful new secretary.

I also received a call that may have been a result of the letter. The caller was a writer I know that I would love to have on the committee, but for health reasons, she would not be able to attend meetings where everyone was not wearing a mask. When I told her we were hybrid that she had the Zoom option, she said that she didn’t do Zoom. Hmm!! But she would be willing to volunteer at the event. Now she wants her name totally removed.

Those two responses turned out to be an omen of how things have gone so far this year. For every piece of good news, there seems to be a corresponding piece of bad news. 


We made major changes this year and needed to get the word out:

* We decided to switch from two days to one in hopes that it will increase attendance at the panel discussion and Keynote Speaker presentation and to save money. A one-day event, instead of two days, cuts in half the usage fee of the Florence Events Center (FEC)

* We decided to start accepting eBooks to keep up with the changing times and to attract a younger demographic.

* We also decided to hire a media consultant to help in marketing to increase attendance at all Festival events. Marketing is the area we need the most help.

Bad News––I had updated all our early press releases, etc that go to the media. They’re aimed at participants, letting them know that applications would open July 5. But we couldn’t send out anything until we heard back from our Keynote Speaker, since we were changing his speaking time. We couldn’t get hold of him for weeks. Later we learned he had been out of the `country for three weeks. When he returned, he let us know that the new time was fine. By then, I was in Eugene for cataract removal surgery for both eyes with no access to update stuff for several days. So, more delay.

William (Bill) Sullivan our Keynote Speaker with an entertaining presentation: “D.B. Cooper and the Exploding Whale: Folk Heroes of the Northwest.”

Good/Bad News––When I got home, I had to spend a couple days on Backstreet Gallery meetings and minutes. Finally, I was able to get all FFOB stuff further updated and sent out. I sent to many of the places that carry my books, plus much of the media throughout western Oregon. I also had to do the agenda for last week’s FFOB meeting, as well as the usual stuff of life like laundry and grocery shopping after being gone nearly a week. So, for several nights, I didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m. And my eyes with their new distance lenses were not happy with all the close up required for the computer. I will be getting new glasses but not for a while.

Good News––I received a positive response from 50Plus Magazine. They wanted a small feature article for this year’s event and some small pieces for next winter and spring plugging FFOB for next fall. They also had an offer of a special deal on an ad. And the editor/publisher was interested in one of my books for possible review and asked me to send a copy. (I actually sent copies of two books!!) And we’re giving serious consideration to the ad.

Good/Bad News––One of our past members who had continued part time, came back to attending meetings. I was thrilled because I value her input. But she had to quit this week because of too many other commitments. Dang!

Bad News––Ever since we began, we’ve had an FEC liaison as a member of the committee, and that is necessary since we work with the FEC. We just found out this past Thursday that Aleia, our liaison for the past four years, will be leaving and her last day was yesterday, June 30. Next Tuesday, July 5, is when the applications start coming in at the FEC, and she won’t be there.

Here was a typical sight at the FFOB last year.

Good News––However, we have a part-time, wonderful committee member Vickie Sharbowski, who volunteered to handle the applications and our new secretary, Vickie Kennedy, will be there to help her. Yay! Team Vickie!  As of Thursday, the link for payment between the FEC and website where the updated applications are located has been set in place. So, when potential participants go to the website to register starting Tuesday, everything should work fine.  

Good News—Also on Thursday, the other co-chair, Meg Spencer, and I met with Aleia and Megan Messmer, who will be taking Aleia’s place. It was a very productive meeting. I feel much better about everything and should start sleeping better.

Good News––I finished writing the feature for 50Plus Magazine Wednesday and sent off with photos. The editor made some changes, sent back, I approved and sent the logo and two photos. I’m thrilled about this article. I also went to Bi-Mart and picked up one of the free copies, and I was impressed. The magazine is only a year old. Check out August/September issue for the article in a few weeks.

We were thrilled to have the OSU Press participate in 2021.

Good to see all the Good News segments at the end of this blog post. This is my last year to be co-chair after 11 years, and I didn’t expect such a rocky start. But the events of the last couple days look like things just might work out after all. I certainly hope so. Will keep you posted.


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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