Story by Emily Huddleston, for AZPM
Meet your favorite authors and illustrators, listen to live storytellers and watch some of your favorite stories come to life this weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books.
About 100,000 people and 400 authors are expected at the festival.
Among them is local mystery writer Elizabeth Gunn. She said during the festival, she enjoys being around such admirable authors.
“It just elevates your thinking, by leaps and bounds,” Gunn said. “You feel like your career has really gone someplace.”
Professional humorist and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry will also be at the festival. Barry’s latest book is “Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster).”
“Sitting down in front of a screen and trying to think of jokes is what it comes down to,” Barry said. “To me, I don’t really care where the jokes come out, on Twitter, in a book or a newspaper, just as long as I get a joke out I am happy.”
Along with these authors, 250 exhibitors will cover the University of Arizona mall, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The executive director of the festival, Marcy Euler, said this is the largest event that takes place on campus that is about educating the citizens of Arizona.
“It is all about books, it is about education, it is all about making Tucson a better place,” Euler said.
The Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock cover band whose members are award-winning authors, kicks off the festival Friday night with a benefit concert.
In addition to providing a two-day celebration of learning each year, the Tucson Festival of Books supports literacy programs in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
A founder of the festival, Bruce Beach, said this event helps create a culture of literacy.
“In my mind literacy is the key to solving some of our community issues, which includes poverty and unemployment,” Beach said.
Since its launch in 2009, the Festival has contributed more than a million dollars to local literacy programs. One of these programs is Literacy Connects, a Tucson-based nonprofit made up of five literacy organizations. Much of the profits from the festival are donated to the program.
Literacy Connects has a booth at the festival and the executive director, Betty Stauffer, said the group will use the opportunity to recruit volunteers.
“Two of our programs really function by using volunteers we train them to do the teaching and the mentoring,” Stauffer said. “So we are hoping to get some more volunteers as well.”
The celebration will include author conversations, workshops, panels and storytelling sessions.
Science City is also a popular part of the weekend. It is the largest science technology, engineering and math event in Arizona. It is designed to spark curiosity and an interest in science.
Festival Director Euler said a lot of effort goes into making sure Tucson is on the map for something so positive.
“Seeing all of the pieces come together and work so beautifully, weekend of, makes me really proud to be associated with the festival,” she said.
Since the event is during UA spring break, there won’t be competition with students for parking. However, Euler suggests visitors carpool or use public transportation to get to the festival.