Organizers of the original Books & Blooms book fair in Boothbay assumed they would draw big crowds, but no one anticipated the masses that showed up for that inaugural festival a decade ago.
“It was,” founder Wayne Sheridan recalled, “a nightmare.”
A nightmare with a happy ending, to be sure. It laid the foundation for what has become Books in Boothbay, the largest single-day book fair in northern New England. Now in its 10th year, this year’s fair will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Boothbay Railway Village.
More than 50 authors will participate, and there are sessions geared for kids and sessions for adults. It’s a chance for people to purchase books, get them signed and mingle with authors.
And the good news is, Boothbay Railway Village has plenty of parking.
The original fair was at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which was still new and just becoming established. Parking was limited, so the festival asked people to park in town at the YMCA and arranged for buses to transport them from the Y to the gardens. More than two dozen authors participated, including a pair of Pulitzer Prize winners. Hundreds of people showed up, presenting Sheridan and his team with a logistical conundrum.
The fair’s success lies squarely on the popularity of Maine writers, said Sharon Pulkkinen, who chairs this year’s organizing committee.
“Readers like to meet writers,” she said. “It’s nice to see they are real people, and it’s nice to be able to talk to them about where their books come from.”
In the world of Maine literature, Saturday’s lineup is bolstered by best-selling writers: Tess Gerritsen, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Paul Doiron and four-dozen others, nearly all of whom have had new titles published within the last 18 months.
A session for children’s and young-adult authors will be from 9 a.m. to noon. Writers of adult titles across all genres of literature will gather from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The event is jointly sponsored by the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, the railway village and Maine Authors Publishing.
The fair would be bigger if space allowed, Sheridan said.
“For every author that comes, we have to turn one or two down,” he said. “We’ve gained a reputation, apparently. People like to meet their favorite authors. It’s that simple. They want to meet these authors face to face, and they can. They talk. It’s really encouraging for people who love literature.”