Enjoy The Terrific Texas Book Festival
Remember those book fairs you had as a kid? Am I the only one that would get super excited when you got the mini-magazine order form thing? I remember going home and circling all the books I wanted and writing the book fair in my calendar.
I do the same thing every year when the Texas Book Festival comes around. Except this is the big leagues. Sure there are tents full of books to buy and your favorite authors are ready to sign your copy, but the thing that I love most about the book festival is that it’s free.
The Texas Book Festival happens once a year usually in October, in the capital of Texas and my hometown–Austin. If you’ve never been to the Capitol, this is a great time to go and explore as a lot of the panels from authors at the fest are held in the extension. The festival is two days, always a Saturday and Sunday. Look at the schedule and see who is going to be speaking what day to make your plan.
Meet Your Favorite Authors
My second favorite thing about the Texas Book Festival are all the author panels. Organized by different discussion topics and genres, these panels are what bring this free writer’s conference to life. I’m usually at the Latinx Tent or the YA HQ Tent. You can see me taking notes and often in deep thought. The moderators always leave time for audience questions. I never seem to be able to think of one on the spot. I should write them down and bring them with me next year.
After each panel, the authors are taken to the signing tent where you can line up and meet them, get your book signed and take a selfie. All this is free. There are some author events at the fest that happen off-site that do cost money, it’s usually more of a one-on-one conversation with the author. If one of your favs is a ticketed event I say go for it.
Books, Books, Books!
There are tents for Children’s books, adult books, and even cookbooks. Cooking demos are also on the schedule so check to see if your favorite chef is scheduled and make sure to watch a cooking demonstration before heading to a panel.
There are vendors and self-publishing tents too. Sometimes you can get a free book and discover a new author. I happened to find a YA tent where if you rolled the dice, you got a free YA arc!
There are also discounted book tents that sell $5 paperbacks and $7 hardcovers. Walking around and finding books that have been on my to-be-read-list and also scouting hidden gems that sometimes find me, my limit is usually no more than 10. It’s hard not to go crazy here but my sister always gives me a number. This year I got two free books and bought 6 paperbacks for $30!
If you are hungry, don’t worry. Most of the restaurants on Congress are closed during the weekends but there are a ton of food trucks (an Austin specialty) that come and park around the festival to give you plenty of options. My favorite? Mmmpanadas. So grab some food and all your books and find a spot on the Capitol Grounds and take a lunch break.
I usually pick one day out of the festival to explore and use the second day to read and write at home from all the book and writing inspiration I got from the fest the day before. Unless your favorite authors are spread out across both days, or you want to do the morning one day and afternoon another, I think you can pretty much experience the festival in one day.