Saturday, September 27: National Book Festival day had finally arrived! The activities were due to start at 10:00 but the Sisters agreed that after the long, exhausting previous day, we wouldn’t rush. We decided that getting there at 11:00 would be a good option.
Our new friend, Ronald Simons, was once again at his post at the Metro, as helpful and encouraging as before. If he sends all the area passengers off with smiles, the way he did for us, he is a terrific Metro ambassador.
This time, when we reached the Archives Metro stop, we joined a vast horde of people walking towards the National Mall. Parents held their children’s hands, couples hurried down 7th Street, and groups of friends headed for Madison Drive.
There were over a dozen huge tents. Some were set up for speakers, others for displays, and one—sponsored by Barnes & Noble—sold books by the featured speakers. Turquoise was the color of the day. Volunteers in turquoise shirts were everywhere. Free, turquoise, canvas bags were given out so each person could take advantage of the plethora of free stuff being given out.
We’d planned to meet our designer/illustrator Lisa Greenleaf at the mall. The rest of the Sisters went off to the Pavilion of the States to connect with Mary Russell from New Hampshire’s Center for the Book. There they had their picture taken with James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.
Mary Russell and her associates had set up a great display for our book. It included quizzes for kids to do using Women of Granite. Children who visited the Pavilion of the States were given a United States map and encouraged to stop by every state display. At each table the state's hosts stamped the map and handed out free gifts: books, bookmarks, or, in the case of the Ocean State, Rhode Island, deliciously creepy miniature sea creatures. Very cool!
Lisa, her family, and the Write Sisters made lots of contacts. We spoke with the people from Massachusetts, California, and Texas about our upcoming “Women of …” books. Diane got to hear the new poet laureate speak for a bit. Mur met women from the American Library Association where her youngest daughter works.
All in all, a very impressive day. It was amazing to see such a great number of people all gathered in one place to celebrate books. The estimates are that 120,000 people attended the event. Imagine, enough bibliophiles to fill nearly two Super Bowl football stadiums worth of seats. Very cool, indeed.