Event Review: Ohioana Book Festival – Main Columbus Metropolitan Public Library Campus – April 27, 2019

I had the privilege of being able to attend the Ohioana Book Festival today and wanted to share my experience! It’s an annual event celebrating Ohio authors and completely free of charge! I know that many of you who read my blog are book lovers like me and today’s book Festival was a book lover’s paradise! Last year was the first time I had heard of Ohioana and I had a conflict and couldn’t make it…after experiencing it this year, I definitely won’t let that happen again!

The festival started at 10:30 this morning and ran until 5 pm today. There were author panels every hour and a half or so…3 smaller conference rooms and 1 large auditorium hosted different groups of authors throughout the day. The panels suffered by theme…there were Middle Grade and YA panels, True Crime and Mystery, Debuts, Historical and many more!

The brochure for today’s event touted 100 authors but it definitely felt like more. Embarrassingly, I’d never actually been to the Main Columbus Metropolitan Library Campus. I tend to stay close to my home library (Worthington) most of the time, I guess. The library was set up beautifully for the event though…parking in the garage was a little dicey but once I found a spot, it was free and access to the library was easy.

The entire first floor of the library was filled with informational booths. Organizations of all sorts (from Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore *love* to the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Dayton Chapter *wow*) were available to provide information on their services and give away book marks and other tchotchkes! I arrived after lunch and missed out on some of the better freebies but still got some great information about literary groups and services of all kinds. If you’ve never heard of Thurber House or don’t know what the Bluffton Literary Journal has to offer…make sure to explore the first floor when you go!

The first floor was also home to a host of activities for kids and teens. Ohio writers who focus on literature for young people presented in the Kids Room all day. Those presentations were separated into children’s and YA authors and were supplemented with activities from balloon twisting and a meet and greet with Clifford the Big Red Dog for younger ones to maker space challenges and hands-on poetry writing sessions for teens!

When I ventured up to the second floor, I found a goldmine! Every author who participates in Ohioana in any way has a table in the second floor with his or her books laid out. (That’s them behind me in the selfie above!) Whenever they aren’t speaking or participating in a panel, they are available at their table to meet visitors and sign books. The Book Loft of German Village (squee!) provides all the books and mans a checkout just beyond all the author tables. Theoretically, you could pick up a signed book from over 100 authors just by walking through the tables on the 2nd floor alone…you’d also theoretically go broke, however, so I recommend focusing on the titles and authors you love or really want to explore! I managed to hold myself to three titles: Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton Trujillo, Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy and Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang. I love a signed copy of a book and have been looking forward to meeting these three women and checking out their work for a long time!

The event was well attended today but not so crowded that I felt I couldn’t do the things I really wanted to do. I waited a few minutes to speak to certain authors and spent about 10 minutes checking out with my books but all in all, it was a very well run and well staffed event!

A few tips: 1) Bring a bag! You’ll collect a lot of freebies from the various groups’ tables and will want to have something to carry it all in. You’ll get a bag when you buy books, of course, but will probably have collected a lot of goodies before you reach that point! 2) Food trucks! Both Tortilla and Schmidt’s were available outside the library for this event. Pace yourself…there’s a ton to see and do at Ohioana but nothing says rest break like a taco truck and a creek puff! 3) Keep yours eyes open a month or two before the festival next year. You’ll want all the deets about Ohioans, of course, but you’ll also want to be aware that many authors with new titles coming out plan events in Columbus in the week leading up to and the one following the festival!

Sadly, if you weren’t at Ohioans with me this year…you’ll have to wait until next year to check it out! But now that you know, you’ll have plenty of time to plan out your list of must-see Ohio authors and prepare to load up your TBR!

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