Kentucky Book Fair has everything for Kentucky readers

Emily Baehner

The annual Kentucky Book Fair will call Lexington its home for the first time ever, at the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on Nov. 18.

Featuring literary award winners, and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, the event creates an opportunity for writers to sign books and interact with readers. Among the featured writers are David Arnold, Wendell Berry, Rita Mae Brown, Ally Condie, Christopher Farnsworth, Wayne Flyn, Bobbie Ann Mason and more.

“It gives readers the chance to meet some of their favorite authors and discover new authors,” said Brooke Raby, the project manager at Kentucky Humanities, the group responsible for planning, executing, and evaluating the Kentucky Book Fair.

In addition to speaking with the authors, the event will also feature main stage presentations from journalist Matt Bai and a Kentucky Chautauqua performance from Virgil Covington, Jr.

Breakout rooms will host presentations from novelist Christopher Farnsworth, graphic novel writer and artist Dean Trippe, and scholar Wayne Flynt, as well as panel discussions about poetry, bourbon, western novels, gender and sexuality in writing, and young adult fiction.

The Kentucky Book Fair will also feature a KBF Kids Day for student in grades three through 12. These activities, which are open to students all over the state, are intended to promote reading, writing and literacy.

“This is the kind of experience that helps reluctant readers become more interested, and enhances reading for those students who already enjoy it,” Raby said.

One of the oldest events of its kind in the country, KBF began in 1981, and has grown from originally featuring 40 authors to an expected 180 that will attend this year. In the years since, the fair has grown in the number of authors and readers, with over 3,500 visitors expected to attend this year.

After being held in Frankfort, Kentucky for the last 35 years, Kentucky Humanities made the decision to move the event to Lexington this year.

The accessibility of having all of the authors in one place is what makes this event so unique. Attending the fair ensures that the event grows and raises the literary profile of Kentucky, said Raby.

“You support a culture of literacy, where writing, reading, ideas and stories are valued,” Raby said.

It is the celebration of Kentucky literature and the authors who write it that makes the Kentucky Book Fair such a beneficial event.

“Kentucky literature offers a variety of ways to see life in the Commonwealth, but also appeals to a common experience amongst its citizens,” Raby says, “It preserves our unique culture, but also presents relatable stories and characters to anyone reading from anywhere.”

The Kentucky Book Fair will last from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. A full list of author, a schedule of events, and more details can be found here.