Need a date for homecoming? It’s March 22.
The 20th annual Virginia Festival of the Book, set for March 19 to 23 at a variety of Charlottesville locations, will take a fond look back during “Homecoming: A Conversation with Some Favorite Authors.” The event, planned for 8 p.m. March 22 at the Paramount Theater, will be a celebration of two decades of authors, panels, performances, discussions and other events for book lovers.
If you’re thinking, “I won’t know anyone there,” think again. The all-star “Homecoming” lineup will include popular guests from festivals past. Look for poet and children’s author Kwame Alexander, Sneaky Pie mysteries author Rita Mae Brown, “Sesame Street” actress and children’s book author Sonia Manzano, poet and literacy advocate E. Ethelbert Miller and Southern writer Lee Smith.
Tickets, $20 each, are available online at vabook.org.
A quick glance at the numbers: This year’s festival will offer 218 separate events featuring 439 total participants. There will be 134 events for adults, 59 school events and 12 StoryFest happenings for children and youths. Guests will include 90 fiction authors, 35 Crime Wave authors for mystery and thriller fans, 230 nonfiction authors, 51 children’s and youth authors, 37 poets and 19 publishing experts. It’s all powered by 14,000 hours of volunteer committee time.
Another number — two — represents the free events that will be offered as a way to thank Central Virginia bibliophiles who’ve turned out for the events over the years.
“Cities of Poetry” with Gregory Orr and Patricia Smith is set for 8 p.m. March 19 and “An Evening with Alice Hoffman” will be at 8 p.m. March 20, both at the University of Virginia’s Culbreth Theatre. Although both events are free, tickets are required; get them through vabook.org or UVa’s Arts Box Office at www.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu.
This year’s festival headliners also include Leadership Breakfast speaker Daniel Pink, who will speak at 7:30 a.m. March 19 at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel. Tickets are $40.
Pink is the author of “A Whole New Mind” and “Drive.”
Brown will be the speaker at the Opening Ceremony, set for noon March 19 at Central Library. She was a featured speaker at the inaugural festival in 1994.
The Festival Luncheon with author David Baldacci, set for March 20 at the Omni, has sold out. So has the Crime Wave Luncheon for mystery fans, a March 22 event featuring Lisa Scottoline. Waiting lists have been established for both events; tickets that become available will be $60 and $50, respectively.
Tickets remain available for “An Afternoon with Lois Lowry and Kathryn Erskine,” which is set for 2 p.m. March 23 at the Culbreth. Newbery Medal recipient Lowry and National Book Award winner Erskine will team up for the StoryFest event. Tickets are $10, $3 for kindergartners through 12th-graders, and are available online at www.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu.
“The Environment as Humans Shape and Adapt It,” a panel about humans’ impact on the environment, will feature authors Paul Bogard, Keya Chatterjee, Bill Gammage and William F. Ruddiman. Hear the panel at 6 p.m. March 19 in the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library in UVa’s Clark Hall.
“Red Ink: American Indians Speak Up” will bring authors Drew Lopenzina and Monika Siebert and poet and moderator Karenne Wood to City Council Chambers at noon March 22.
The schedule is filled with panel discussions and other happenings about a wide range of reading interests, such as muscle cars, Southern food, world events, memoirs, commuting by bicycle, wars, real-life mysteries and fantasy, sci-fi and graphic novels.
Most festival events are free. The Virginia Festival of the Book is presented by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Look through the full schedule and learn more at vabook.org, where the fest’s My Book Bag personal schedule function can help you map out the events you want to attend.