Headliners, Poetry Readings, and Genre Panels Highlight Successful Book Festival

Veteran Journalist and 60 Minutes Correspondent Steve Pelley shares stories from his book Truth Worth Telling. More than 150 were in the audience to hear Pelley for the festival’s first Headliner session. Honorary Co-Chair Jane Jayroe [inset] recruited Pelley for the festival.

A rainy morning and a day where the wind came sweeping down the plains didn’t stop a record crowd from turning out for the 2nd Oklahoma Book Festival on Saturday, September 21. 

Festival vendor Factor 110 estimates more than 3,000 individuals headed to the Oklahoma City Boathouse District to hear the 100+ presenters from Oklahoma and across the nation as they discussed their latest books—an increase from last year’s estimate of more than 2,500 in attendance. 

Headliners were the big draw, with a total of 427 people attending sessions in the Ida Sutton Williams Headliner Tent to hear presentations on popular current titles, from Scott Pelley’s Truth Worth Telling, to WK Stratton’s book on the movie The Wild Bunch, to Mystery writer Anne’s Hillerman’s latest work, The Tale Teller

Almost 300 individuals stopped by the Poetry Pavillion during the day, where 15 local and regional poets—including Oklahoma Poet Laureate Jeanetta Calhoun Mish— read their works. More than 120 attendees took part in the two Inspirational panels, which highlighted both fictional and non-fictional works.

Other genre panels featured at the festival included Romance, Young Adult Fantasy, History, Science, Nature, and Bilingual Children’s Books.  

On the Young Adult side, 105 tweens, teens, and adults turned out to see Brandon Mull’s presentation on his insanely popular Dragonwatchbooks, part of his Fablehavenseries.

Thanks to funding from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, 74 middle schoolers and their chaperones from Bristow, Cleveland, and Okeene were bused in to take part in the festivities. Each young person received a free t-shirt, a free book, and a voucher to have lunch at one of the festival’s food trucks. Some of the lucky young people had their photo taken with writer Alton Carter, author of the popular The Boy Who Carried Bricksand his new work, The Boy Who Survived.

Volunteers from the Southern Oklahoma Library System coordinated and staffed the Children’s Craft Tent, where youngsters could create their own superhero capes, masks, and shields.

Some 600 young people made superhero capes, masks, shields, and kites in the Children’s Craft Tent during the day, and another 300 visited the Pioneer Library System’s Mobile Maker Space. 

The Festival’s Vendor Village and Food Truck zone was popular throughout the day, with approximately 700 individuals shopping the booths and an estimated 1500 folk ordering drinks and meals.

Feedback from festival goers and authors have been uniformly positive, and we’re thrilled the event was another success. We’ll leave you with a look at more numbers from the festival, and a super “Thank You!” from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to our outstanding volunteers and generous sponsors! 

2019 Oklahoma Book Festival by the Numbers:

17 sponsors and 3media sponsors 

110 authors, poets and illustrators made presentations or participated on panels

42: Number of individual author presentations and panels

15: Number of poets reading at the Poetry Pavilion 

2,059: Total attendance at all author presentation tents and stages

973: Total attendance for all children’s activities (craft tent, maker space, and storytime tent)

4,000 est: Total attendance at all venues (author tents, poetry pavilion, children’s activities, Vendor Village, book sale and signing sessions, and food trucks)

$19,000+: Dollar amount of books sold by festival vendor Full Circle Books

360: Number of complimentary food vouchers used at food trucks by authors, moderators, volunteers, and young guests from three middle schools

11,600: Responses on Facebook Event Page for the Book Festival

4 (at least): Number of times the sign for the Frank Keating Tween/YA Lawn was blown over by the wind 

Audience members react with laughter during the author panel for Voices from
the Heartland: Volume 2.

The 2019 Oklahoma Book Festival was presented by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries with support of the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Premiere sponsors were the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Attorney Laurie Williams. Additional sponsors were the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, 110 events, Full Circle Books, Jane Jayroe Gamble, Barbara Green, Frank Keating, Herman and LaDonna Meinders, the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, Loves, the Pioneer Library System, Gene Rainbolt, the Oklahoma History Center, and Walmart. Media sponsors were The Oklahoman, News 9, and the Oklahoma Gazette.