Wow. What an amazing weekend. Perfect weather - low 70's. Sun shining...hot. Crowds of happy people, many with tee shirts glorifying reading in some way. Colorful parasols dotting the slowly moving people as they sip on free McDonalds frappacinos or glance at displays in one of the hundreds of booths. This is what the mall at the University of Arizona in Tucson looked like yesterday...and will today, too.
Free parking! That is, if you can find a lot that isn't full. I had to park quite a distance away, but the walk through campus was gorgeous. There's weren't a lot of students around, since it was the first day of break. But the campus was immaculate and green and budding. And when I reached the mall all I could see were white tents and milling people, I could smell lovely scents floating from the many food vendors and I could hear a low murmur of voices. Dogs on leashes (and being carried!) everywhere. And the sights of those hundreds of parasols!
My first two hours were spent "manning" my school's booth, which was great fun. There's a new consortium of private schools in Tucson, and we're one of the five. Our booths were all together in the children's section. The booths and names on the booth are all provided by the Festival, which makes it orderly and easy to find the venue you're looking for. I enjoyed a Sonoran hot dog for lunch and then went wandering. And thinking. And saying hi to friends, students, parents. And gathering ideas for my blog and for my classroom.
Some of the highlights for me:
Finding out there is a National Jane Austen Society with a large Tucson branch!
Meeting young adult author Jillian Cantor (The September Sisters and The Life of Glass) a lovely local author whose first adult novel is coming out in November.
Spending some time in the WOW booth (World of Words, a U of A College of Education invention), talking to one of their articulate volunteers and checking out a huge basket of books about China.
Talking with past participants in the Southern Arizona Writing Project and feeling their great enthusiasm.
Watching kids participating in the dozens and dozens of activities provided for them. This was indeed the perfect family venue! ! !
Today I hope to catch a few author talks. So many authors here! I can't believe such a huge event, in only its second year, was so organized, so cram full of great "stuff," and so well attended. Hurray, U of A and festival committee! And thanks!