The Backend of Book Festival Planning

Deedee Cummings and Melissa Gaddie on WLKY News speaking about the Louisville Book Festival.

When a person thinks about the book festival, it is easy to only focus on the books. What books am I going to find? What authors are going to be there? Will I be able to buy books there? How many books can I carry without ending up in traction?

But there is a lot more that goes into a book festival than just finding authors and books (although this IS a big part).

Deedee Cummings, founder of the Louisville Book Festival, and Melissa Gaddie, festival coordinator, spent a lot of time and energy laying the foundation for a successful festival.

First, there was selecting the right space that can accommodate all the book lovers, but also mapping out where vendors and presenters and audience members and browsers and curious passers-by will go and how everything will flow over the course of two days.

Next there was sitting through meetings with collaborators and sponsors. For Deedee and Melissa, that meant conversations with Carmichael’s Bookstore, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Literary Arts, various publishers, and the Louisville Free Public Library among many other groups.

Another aspect of backend festival work was promoting the festival on local television. Deedee and Melissa were on WLKY News (pictured here), WHAS, WAVE and interviewed with the Leo and the Courier-Journal to talk about the festival and the planning that has gone on, as well as what attendees can expect.

Then, on top of all that, there is the ambiance creation. The signage and the visual elements that make the festival immersive. It is those little touches that make a social event a little more special. It is the difference between serving someone a meal on a paper plate versus a colorful ceramic plate. One local woodworking artist, Emily Burrice of KY Sawdust Creations, created huge letters that spelled out exactly what the Louisville Book Festival is about.

Emily Burrice of KY Sawdust Creations with one of the props for the festival.

The goal of all these efforts was to make the Louisville Book Festival one that anyone could enjoy, but especially children. 

“We wanted children to come to the festival to see all the ways you celebrate books and all the ways books stay with you. It is something that becomes who you are for the rest of your life,” Deedee says.

With one in-person Louisville Book Festival under their belts, they’ll be doing it again in 2023 (November 10-11, 2023)!



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