It Happens Every March
Forty-some years ago, two profs at Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, decided it would be nice to invite a few authors to campus for a tea. It was a success. No one could have envisioned that this event would grow, and grow, and grow…until now, each March during college spring break, the campus comes alive with up to forty authors and illustrators who meet with, talk, and interact with thousands of students, teachers and parents.
I am referring to the annual Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg.
When Ophelia Gilbert and Phil Sadler founded it, they had no illusions of the festival’s importance, that it would inspire similar festivals throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Michigan. Ophelia and Phil are no longer with us, but they lived to see their bookish idea grow to phenomenal proportions. It is their legacy.
6000 kids and teachers in two days!
Phil Sadler invited me to The Fesitival, (yes it deserves upper-case letters), in the mid 1980s. With a few exceptions, when other engagements conflicted, I have been one of The Authors, again, upper-case, for twenty-something times. I may be closer to thirty. The event is like Christmas. Each year is somewhat predictable—lots of good company, wonderful kids, thousands of books to buy, meals to share, and Sessions. Over two days The Authors, and The Illustrators do eight sessions for the thousands of kids who are bussed in. Many travel long distances to attend.
These heartland kids are simply great to talk to.
In down times, The Authors & Illustrators have their chance. Friendships have evolved, and it is amazing to contemplate on the amount of talent in one place. I treasure those creative people I have met at Warrensburg.
As Dr. Seuss said….”Oh, the places you’ll go.” He was right!