The Literary Works: Kerrytown BookFest offers a farmer's market of prose and poetry


15th annual Kerrytown BookFest

The 15th Kerrytown BookFest will features dozens of authors while also reaffirming its dedication to highlighting book-making arts.

For the past 15 years, the Kerrytown BookFest has honored and celebrated writers and readers with speakers, panels, and a sprawling book fair held under the farmers’ market sheds.

But for this year, BookFest Co-Chair Linda Kimmel is particularly pleased with the festival’s re-emphasis on book arts, including “letterpress printers, binders, illustrators, papermakers. ... ["W"]e have once again increased the number of book artists who are vendors at the event ... and increased the number of book arts demonstrations to six this year.”

The demonstrations will take place during the entire festival and include Jim Horton showing wood engraving and letterpress printing; Out of Hand Papermaking Studio, which will be both teaching the papermaking process and selling hand-made paper; Jonathan Wright, a local illustrator (and fairyologist) who will discuss pencil and watercolor illustrations; Randy Asplund, a designer of high-end medieval art books; Amos Kennedy, who will demonstrate letterpress and where visitors can make their own postcards; and Chad Pastotnik, who creates books and bindings using a centuries-old tradition.

Still, many attendees are less concerned with how books are made and are more eager to read the words inside them and meet the authors who penned them. While allowing that if you ask anyone on the BookFest board for 2017 author-event highlights "they would each undoubtedly name a different thing," Kimmel named two, including the "Historical Suspense" panel. “Four top historical mystery/suspense authors will be there: James R. Benn, Anna Lee Huber, Deanna Raybourn, and Nancy Herriman," she says. "We once again have a "Young Adult" panel with authors Erica Chapman, Kristin Bartley Lenz, Heather Meloche, and Darcy Woods who will be speaking with moderator Patrick Flores-Scott.” (Pulp contributor Anna Prushinskaya picked the “Poetic Musings" panel with Robert Fanning, Cindy Hunter Morgan, Keith Taylor, and Z.G. Tomaszewski as a highlight and interviewed moderator hosted by Zilka Joseph, which you can read here.)

Dozens of authors will be speaking and selling their books. Local celebrity and best-selling author Loren Estleman will be on hand to present the Community Book Award to James and Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha’s, Stacie Grissom of BARK magazine appears with cartoonist Dave Coverly as part of a fundraiser for the Humane Society, and local historian and professor Stephen Ward will share stories of civil rights in 1960s Detroit.

In addition to author panels, exhibitors will be showing their wares in the farmers’ market space all day long. The entire list can be found online here, and includes local booksellers, such as Bookbound, Nicola’s, and Aunt Agatha’s, and local publishers, such as Fish Out of Water Books and Grey Wolfe Publishing, as well as groups such as the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation and the Holland Writer’s Group.

An annual highlight is always the Book Cover Design Contest. Open to all high school students in Michigan, the contest asks students to reimagine a book cover with their own visual interpretation. This year, the book selected was Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. Winners will be announced on September 8 and framed covers from previous years’ winners will be displayed.

The festival is a labor of love by those who love books, and Kimmel stresses that the volunteers who run the event make the magic happen. “We have a great, active board who began working on the 2017 event even before the 2016 event ended. We also have some loyal year-round volunteers who help with such things as programming, the book cover design contest, and exhibitors. And finally, we have an incredible group of day-of volunteers. BookFest just wouldn’t exist without them.”

Or the books.

Patti F. Smith is a special education teacher and writer who lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and cat.

The 15th annual Kerrytown BookFest takes place in and around the Kerrytown Market and Farmers’ Market area on Sunday, September 10 from 10:30 am-5 pm.