It was a look at local books.
When the Dade City Heritage and Cultural Museum had its inaugural Local Author Fair on March 11, it provided a place for writers to show off and sell their books, connect with readers and to promote literacy.
For all the festivals and events that are held throughout town during the year, there wasn’t one focusing solely on reading.
“We just noticed there was a need for it in this community — we noticed that this town has a lot of festivals and family friendly events, but nothing for literacy,” said Museum Volunteer Director Jayde Archbold, who organized the author fair. “But it worked out great, and I think people are having a great time, so, yeah, we’re going to want it to be a yearly thing now.”
The event was held in the old Atlantic Coastline Train Depot, which is the museum’s home.
More than 25 authors — from Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties — were there to display books they’ve written and to sell them, discuss them and even do readings from them.
“We didn’t have a specific geographic area that we targeted authors, just a general area near to Dade City,” Archbold said. “We were just happy that when we put it out there, promoting it for authors to sign up, that we had such a great response that we had to stop because of our limited space. We accepted as many (authors) as we could, but we might need a bigger space — or maybe do it outside next year.”
The event was sponsored by Dade City booksellers, Lighthouse Books and The Book Shack, as well as American Pizza Oven.
Local authors in attendance included Janet Watson and J.L. LaPointe.
Shelby Mander, a Dade City native and teacher at nearby Centennial Elementary, was there, too, promoting her children’s book, “Petunia the Piccolo Player.” It tells the story of a musical elephant, Petunia Pachyderm, and her journey to make it to a big show.
“I think (the fair) is the little push I need to start getting sales of my book,” Mander said. “This was a great way to meet other authors and see their works, see their set up and see how they do it, too.
“It’s been a great turnout from authors and from potential readers,” she added. “And I’ve really enjoyed hearing the stories, too. Not just hearing authors read excerpts from their books, but their stories about what they went through to get published, from beginning to end, to get their books made.”
Archbold is a librarian at Starkey Ranch Theatre Library Cultural Center in Odessa and has worked for Pasco County Libraries for five years. For her, the event is about bringing literacy and local author awareness to Dade City, as well as the rest of Pasco County.
“There are local authors out there, making waves with their books, so we want to promote them,” she said. I think people underestimate the value of libraries to the community, or think that libraries are just for children now. Libraries, and this (fair), bring together local authors to show people what is out there, that people in the community, maybe even their neighbors, are out here writing, reading and promoting books that are good.
“People need to know who is around them that is contributing positive things in their community, so they can support them,” she added. “It’s always, ‘Support your local business, support your local artist, support your local events in the community.’
“So why not support your local authors, too?”
Published March 22, 2023