Book festival to kick off third year at Oaks Mall

Authors from Gainesville and across Florida will set up shop at the Oaks Mall on Saturday, April 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the third annual Sunshine State Book Festival hosted by the Writer’s Alliance of Gainesville (WAG). 

Around 90 authors will staff booths across the mall to talk with readers and sign books.

Pat Caren, chair of the festival, said WAG will set up an informational booth at the main entrance to the mall with pamphlets showing where each author is stationed and where to go for different genres. 

Visitors can also submit their names for book raffles that will be given away every hour. Caren said the festival would give away at least 50 books in the raffles and possibly more. 

“If somebody can stop at a table and pick up a book and read the back cover and talk to the writer, that brings it home better than things over social media,” Caren said. 

Caren said around half of the writers are WAG members with other authors traveling up from south Florida or down from other states. 

You can find a full list of authors and their books at the festival’s website

“Some people will come quite a ways to be involved in something like this,” Caren said. 

Caren said WAG members would pay for booths at nearby festivals, and finally, the organization decided to launch its own in January 2020. 

“We’re not a small organization when it comes to book organizations,” Caren said. 

WAG contains more than 200 members and has published its own literary review for the past 12 years. The organization also co-published a book with the Matheson History Museum earlier this year. 

The festival happened virtually in 2021, and this year’s iteration got delayed from January to April because of COVID-19’s omicron variant. 

In addition to Saturday’s Oaks Mall event, the festival will include a series of lectures on Sunday April 10 at the Matheson History Museum. 

Here’s the information on the four lectures: 

  • Voices of Color: Negro Spirituals to Black Education
    • Presented by Carol Richardson, Program Director of A. Quinn Jones Museum
    • At 1 p.m.
  • Saving Florida’s Springs: A Prescription for Springs’ Health
    • Presented by Robert Knight, President, Odum Springs Institute
    • At 2 p.m.
  • Writing About War: Two Views,
    • Presented by award-winning authors Robert and Patience Mason
    • At 3 p.m.
  • The Struggle for Democracy: From Slavery and Colonialism to Black Lives Matter
    • Presented by Paul Ortiz, Director of the Samuel T. Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida
    • At 4 p.m.

For more information on the Sunshine State Book Festival, visit its website.

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