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What To See At The 2017 Baltimore Book Festival

The Baltimore Book Festival will take place September 22, 2017 - September 24, 2017, from 11am - 7pm at the Inner Harbor. Every year, authors, artists and merchants arrive from around the world to present their work to eager fans and tourists. (As an added bonus, Baltimore Comic Con will also be at the convention center just up the street. So if you're in the area and can do so, why not attend both?) I personally enjoy going to the BBF, and any fan of books and art will appreciate the open, inclusive nature of the festival. Best of all, it's always free to attend. For this year's event, Festival Director Kathy Hornig gives insight into the best of the BBF and sheds some light upon the controversy surrounding R. Dolezal's now-canceled appearance.

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1. What can people expect from this year's Baltimore Book Festival?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Comicbook artist, BBF 2016)

This year we have more than 500 authors presenting on 10 stages from genres ranging from sci-fi and fantasy, to romance, to comics. In addition to meeting and connecting with their favorite authors, festival-goers have the chance to learn and sample recipes on the Food for Thought Stage, listen to live music from local Baltimore musicians, participate in a Storybook Parade on Saturday, bring the kids to do arts and crafts at the Children’s Corridor, enjoy local food and beverage and so much more.

2. A few years ago, the festival moved from Mt. Vernon to the Inner Harbor. How has that changed things?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Book Festival music stage, 2016) / Via Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Book Festival music stage, 2016)

Moving to the Inner Harbor has given the Baltimore Book Festival the chance to grow and expand by allowing room for additional stages, letting us invite even more authors across a variety of genres. We also have more space to host special events during the festival and a larger audience area with seating for each stage, with better accessibility.

3. What are some of the highlights from past years?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Luvvie Ajayi, BBF 2016)

Since its inception in 1996, we have hosted literally thousands of authors at the Baltimore Book Festival including: Jane Goodall, Buzz Aldrin, Reverend TD Jakes, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Candace Bushnell, Senator John McCain, Brad Meltzer, Tim Gunn, Carl Hiassen, Terry McMillan and the list goes on and on …

4. What should festival goers definitely not miss out on this year?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: MPT at BBF, 2016)

Of course, all of the author presentations are worth attending, but you don’t want to miss out on the cooking demos happening on the Food for Thought Stage all weekend long. This year, we are doing a special “Ancient Ales & Extreme Brewing Dogfish Head Happy Hour” on the Food for Thought Stage Friday evening at 5pm, with food and ale pairings. A lot of our authors this year have strong pop-culture ties like reality star Patricia Altschul from the TV show Southern Charm, mother of Foo Fighters’ front man Dave Grohl, Virginia Grohl and a conversation between Rabia Chaudry and Asia McClain Chapman, both from the hit podcast “Serial.”

5. This year there was some controversy when Ms. Dolezal was invited. Many expressed relief when that changed. Can you talk a bit about that and the decision to rescind the invitation?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Literary Salon sign, BBF 2016)

In the course of presenting thousands of authors across two decades, we’ve certainly presented controversial authors at the Baltimore Book Festival. But in this particular instance, we heard loud and clear from our festival community that they were not in favor of this author being on the 2017 schedule. We felt it was in everyone’s best interest not to move forward and Ms. Dolezal was fine with that decision.

6. Can you talk a bit about author highlights this year?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: CityLit Project Executive Director Carla Du Pree at the CityLit Stage, BBF 2016)

Author highlights this year include Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus; Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour; Adam Gidwitz, The Inquisitor’s Tale; Javaka Steptoe, Radiant Child; Chitra Agrawal, Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn; Donna Kaz, UN/MASKED: Memoirs of a Guerilla Girl On Tour; Leland Melvin, Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances and so many more.

7. How is BBF different from other book festivals?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Comicbook artists at the Comic Pavilion, BBF 2016)

The Baltimore Book Festival is a party on the waterfront with live music, delicious local food, beer, wine, hands-on fun for children, strolling storybook characters, great shopping for books and book-themed accessories and so much more. Also, all 500 of our presenting authors speak to the audience, and take q-and-a – no one is at our event to just sell and sign books (although there’s plenty of that as well!)

8. Anything else you would like to add?

Nancy O. Greene (Photo: Local authors/akinoga press, BBF 2016)

Plan your visit and make the most of your weekend by going to www.baltimorebookfestival.com to see the full schedule and event information.

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