I’m constantly blown away by the results motivated volunteers achieve. The recently concluded Kentucky Book Fair is a prime example. It’s organized and staged by volunteers( there is only one paid staffer, Connie Crowe, the manager, whose talents and enthusiasm keep everything running smoothly.) The Fair is the largest in the state — in fact, one of the largest in the East. It regularly attracts 3,000 to 4,000 patrons, showcases the work of some 200 or so authors who are in attendance talking with readers and signing books, and so far has generated over $300,000 for Kentucky schools and small town libraries and reading program.
The Fair celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. That’s an eloquent compliment to the excellence of the idea and to the work and dedication the volunteers, some of whom have been with it from the beginning, among them Carl West, its founder and president. A former Pentagon reporter for Scripps-Howard and native Kentuckian, Carl is the managing editor of the Frankfort State Journal. The Journal is co-sponsor of the Fair along with the Kentucky Department of Libraries, the University of Kentucky Press and Joseph-Beth Booksellers.
Gross book sales this year for the one-day event were $157,000 – one of the best years on record. THEO & The Mouthful of Ashes ranked in the top ten (number eight actually), flattered and honored to be in such fine company.
All of us — the libraries and reading programs receiving the grants, the readers who flock to the Fair and get the opportunity to inspect such a wide range of good literature and inter-act with so many authors, and most particularly the authors themselves – all of us owe these hard working and dedicated volunteers a booming round of applause and a standing ovation.