As an intern for THE Texas Book Festival, there are few things more exciting than Festival weekend. After months of hard work, everything comes together for two glorious days of all things reading and writing, and for interns, it also means two full days of in-person action. I’m here to break down what it looks like.
Saturday, October 30 – Festival Day One
8:00 AM – Arrive at Symphony Square
There’s nothing quite like telling yourself you’ll get up with enough time to eat breakfast and make coffee before you leave the house, and then doing neither. Lucky for me though, the Book Festival bosses were prepared for this type of disaster and had bottomless coffee at the ready for us. We got the lay of the land, chugged our hot bean juice, and started prep for the Festival.
I was on the front line initially, scanning tickets and checking covid vaccination cards for all our fellow book enthusiasts. It was family day at the festival, and kids who are already far more well-read than me lined up with their parents to see their favorite books read and signed by the authors waiting inside. We would make brief chit-chat, scan their tickets and send them in for the show. I bounced between this, and parking lot duty for the first few hours in between other small tasks like tapping up posters or refilling my coffee cup.
12:00 PM – Assistant Producing and Book Presenting
I left my fellow interns to manage the check-in and headed to the author green room to set up for one of the last virtual panels of the Festival. As book festival interns, we all learned how to assistant produce online sessions for the week leading up to the in-person events. It mostly consisted of monitoring the audience chat to make sure nothing inappropriate was said and sending audience questions over to authors and moderators once Q&A was up, but we also just got to listen in on some very interesting discussions with authors all over the country. That Saturday the session was a discussion of the book “Forget the Alamo,” and the audience commentary was expected to be hot, but our attendees impressed us (as they always do) with civil conversation and interesting and relevant questions for the authors. I had to sign off quickly though so I could get to my next station: book presenter.
As authors read their books to the children in the audience, two interns would stand on either side of them with copies of the books open wide for everyone to see the illustrations. We not only got a good story read to us, but we were also able to see the effects the story had on the kids. More than anything though, it made me jealous of the kids growing up in 2021. The books that were read Saturday were not only fun stories with beautiful pages but thought-provoking and informative. I don’t think I ever had a children’s book that tackled race or immigration issues, and it was fantastic to see those stories being told for a young audience in such a tasteful way. But all good things must come to an end, and after a few readings, it was time for the Lit Crawl.
4:00 PM – Cheer Up Charlies
The best part of any day, the bar. While everyone at Symphony Square transitioned the area from kids shows to the cocktail party, I headed down the street to Cheer Up Charlies with a table, a few bags of books, and a hankering for a good time. Another intern and I set up a table inside the bar for a book swap, laying out books from the festival for people in the audience to take and trade out with books of their own. As the bar filled up the Lit Crawl shows started, first with the Writers League of Texas hosting a game of book quotes, and then with an author line up where Texas authors answered audience questions using only words from their books. Honestly, this was the most fun part of the festival for me. I got a chance to talk with people on the crawl as they came up to our table for books and I got to enjoy the programming. Not to mention how cool of a venue Cheer Up Charlies is. After the games had ended, we packed up our table and the few remaining books and took the crawl over to Symphony Square.
And that’s where my day ended! The rest of the interns helped close up the cocktail party a few hours later, but I went home to get to bed early for set up at 6:00 AM for day two of the Festival. I didn’t know what to expect going into Festival weekend, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time. It was great to bond with the other interns and TBF staff, and it was great to participate in what ended up being a really great production. Whether you were part of the Festival or a participant, everyone there made it a great experience and I can’t wait to attend next year!