Annual event shines spotlight on Buckeye State authors

Author Edith Pattou loves connecting with her readers. She enjoys listening to their insights about her characters, answering their questions about her writing process and hearing how her books have shaped their lives.

That's why she attends the Ohioana Book Festival whenever she can. The annual event, which celebrates authors with a connection to Ohio, provides a great setting for writers and readers to mix and mingle, said Pattou, who lives in Upper Arlington. “It's wonderful to connect with people,” she said. “People who have read your books always have so many interesting things to say.”

The free April 8 event will feature more than 100 authors, panel discussions, a book fair and activities for children, said David Weaver, executive director of the Ohioana Library, which organizes the daylong happening. “It's a family festival,” he said. “We encourage coming with your family. There is a kids' room and a teen space.”

The Downtown library, which is dedicated to acquiring, preserving and promoting the works of Buckeye State authors, has a noncirculating collection of more than 45,000 books by or about Ohioans.

The book event highlights Ohioans in the literary world, Weaver said. “Our festival is specifically devoted to Ohio authors and Ohio books,” he said. “It's a great opportunity for us to shine a light on a lot of people who are from here, live here or work here.”

The authors who are attending the 2017 festival write in numerous genres, from children's fiction and poetry to mysteries and food. The event, which began in 2007, has grown dramatically over the last decade. The first one featured 10 authors and attracted 600 guests. Last year, more than 3,000 people attended.

In the children's area, youngsters can listen to authors, make crafts and participate in other entertainment. One of Pattou's favorite parts is watching attendees select a book. “When parents and children discover new books together, that's such a neat family thing.”