Oklahoma’s Inaugural Book Festival by the Numbers

Costumed characters from Jedi OKC and the 501st Legion added to the fun of the Oklahoma Book Festival. See more photos from the festival.

A rain-soaked Friday, October 19—that almost made planners push the panic button—gave way to a sunny and successful Oklahoma Book Festival on Saturday, October 20, in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District.

A book festival the state could call its own has long been a dream of Oklahoma’s literary community. Budget cuts that effectively slashed ODL’s number of employees by more than 50% over the past two decades didn’t bode well for the agency and its Oklahoma Center for the Book (OCB) to take on such an endeavor.

But take two determined employees (Vicki Mohr, administrator of ODL’s Office of Library Development, and Connie Armstrong, OCB Director), an agency director willing to use federal LSTA funds to help fund the project (Susan McVey), some influential and generous sponsors and partners, some enthusiastic volunteers, and a host of willing authors and illustrators…well, you get a book festival!

Let’s take a look at the successful event by the numbers…

While national authors were also brought in, the festival also served to celebrate Oklahoma talent. Successful YA authors Brad McLelland (Ponca City), Alexandra Ott (Tulsa), Roy Deering (Ada), and Kim Ventrella (Oklahoma City) talk about their latest books. See more photos from the festival.

2,500 to 3,000: Number of attendees based on event planner estimate and overflowing parking lot

58 authors and illustrators made presentations or participated in panel discussions

925 books were sold

1,000+: Number of children and caregivers who participated in the Children’s Craft Tent

946: Total attendance at sessions in the three Big Tents (Ida Sutton Williams Headliner Tent, Angie Debo Venue, and the Ralph Ellison Tent)

225: Attendance at sessions in the Children/YA Tent

176: Number of children and caregivers who enjoyed tales in the Storytime Tent.

120+: Attendance at illustrator Jerry Bennett’s session in the CHK Boathouse Venue. (Alas, the total attendance figure for the CHK venue never made it back to the festival’s information booth. Sob!)

20 exhibitors, 8 entertainers, and 7 food trucks

14 sponsors and 3 media sponsors

2: Number of tents that had to be abandoned due to the wet ground. The Angie Debo and Children/YA sessions were held outdoors in the sunshine.

123: The number of downloadable photos on our Flikr page for the Oklahoma Book Festival

18: Number of authors whose works were on the Oklahoma Best Sellers lists in the weeks following the festival.

5,400: Responses on Facebook Event Page for the festival

Thousands and thousands! The number of people reached on Facebook (141,100), the number of Twitter impressions (700,000+), the number of Google Search Views (54,254), and the number of pageviews on the festival website (154,000)

For such a successful first-time outing, our thanks go to the wonderful sponsors, the enthusiastic volunteers, and a public who showed they were ready for a Sooner State book festival.

Mark your calendars for the 2019 Oklahoma Book Festival. It will be held on Saturday, September 21 at OKC’s boathouse district!