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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


More than 100,000 people from around the nation attend Tucson Festival of Books

The Conmunity

The annual Tucson Festival of Books begins March 11, assuring the UA Mall will fill up with authors, sponsors and exhibitors promoting their work and businesses for all visitors to learn and enjoy.

Holly Shenitzer, chair of hospitality for the non-profit organization, said she has seen the festival grow each year, especially with an increase of publishers paying to bring their authors to the festival. Last year, over 350 authors participated in the festival activities.

For this year’s event, Joni Franks, a children’s author, will be traveling from Colorado to Tucson for the first time. She said she is happy to get away from the cold weather.

She will be promoting her recently published children’s book, named “Corky Tails,” on Saturday.

“I hope to meet a lot of people and sign a lot of copies,” Franks said. “It was an excellent opportunity for me to be in front of a large venue, so I am very excited for that.”

RELATED: 150 sponsors donate half a million dollars for Tucson Festival of Books

Charlotte Endorf, an author traveling from Nebraska, said she will “bring history to life” by dressing in costume to talk about the books she has written about the orphan train.

This being her first time attending the book festival, Endorf said it will be the largest audience she has spoken to yet.

“I always like to meet the people and see the look in their eyes. I always ask them if they have heard of the orphan train before,” Endorf said. She is happy to share her work with people in Arizona and said she works to keep her message alive.

Shenitzer is in charge of offering hospitality and soliciting Tucson hotels. In addition to purchasing hotel rooms, 18 hotels have donated about 130 hotel rooms for traveling authors, according to Shenitzer.

RELATED: Professor and faculty represent UA at Tuscon Festival of Books

The festivals’ volunteers handle travel arrangements for some authors, with some even driving the authors to the festival from the airport and back to their hotels.

“A lot of it boosts Tucson’s economy because a lot of hotels in Tucson are sold out this weekend,” Shenitzer said. “We have people traveling just to see the festival and be part of it.”

In under 10 years, the festival has become the third largest book festival in the country, and according to Shenitzer, there have been authors in the past flying in from Europe, and this year there will be people coming in from Mexico, Canada and all over the U.S.

“It’s really unique,” Shenitzer said. “I have been doing this since before it started, and people love the campus, they love Tucson people and a lot of them extend their stay.”

The main event takes place on the UA Mall, with some panels and presentations held in the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center, Student Union Memorial Center ballrooms, the Henry Koffler building among other venues.

“There something for everybody here; we attract 130,000 people,” Shenitzer said. “There aren’t very many festivals that encompass this much.”

Follow Angela Martinez on Twitter.

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