Ohioana Book Festival


There’s still time to visit the 2016 Ohioana Book Festival, at the Sheraton in downtown Columbus.  I got a signed book and shook John Scalzi’s hand, tried not to sound like a gushing idiot when we chatted, listened to an interesting panel discussion, and got some solid book and author recommendations.

Not a bad day’s work!

2016 Ohioana Book Festival

This Saturday will be the 10th anniversary Ohioana Book Festival. It will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Columbus and, as always, it’s free and open to everyone.

I went to the first Ohioana Book Festival, and it’s amazing how the event has grown over the past ten years.  This year, more than 120 authors and illustrators will participate, Ohioana is expecting more than 4,000 attendees.  The scope of the book festival has grown, too, with outreach activities, library visits, live readings and media appearances that start today.  You can find the schedule of outreach events and the order of panel discussions and roundtables at the Ohioana Book Festival itself here.

John ScalziI think this year’s Festival lineup is one of the best yet.  I’ve always liked to listen to writers talk about writing, and this year I get a special treat:  one of the writers I’ve discovered and enjoyed during the past year, John Scalzi, is on the program.  I first became aware of him in December, when I felt the urge to read some science fiction, and I so enjoyed Old Man’s War that since then I’ve compulsively and greedily read through every book he’s written and even wrote a blog post about the hilarious Redshirts.  His stuff is just terrific, and it will be fun to get a sense of what he’s like in person.  (I’m also hoping, incidentally, that he’ll say a new installment in the Old Man’s War series is at the printer.)

The doors open at 10 a.m. on April 23, with the first break-out discussions beginning at 10:15.  It’s a fun event, and a great place to buy books, too.  I hope to see you there!

Off The Board

Tomorrow I attend my last meeting as a regular member of the Board of Trustees of the Ohioana Library Association.  I’ve been a member of the Board for more than 20 years.

During that time Ohioana has morphed from an obscure archival organization crammed into ridiculously inadequate space into a vibrant, active member of the central Ohio and state arts community.  We’ve navigated the rocky waters of budgeting, mounted a first-ever capital campaign, partnered with WOSU TV and radio to develop some very cool programming, introduced and changed a website, and rolled out great new events like the Ohioana Book Festival.  It’s been very satisfying to see this wonderful piece of Ohio culture and history grow and evolve as it has, and to play a small part in that process.

I thought having long-time Board members was a good thing that showed commitment, but my perception was jarred a bit during a Board retreat some months ago.  (And after all, isn’t the purpose of a retreat to challenge perceptions?)  Our facilitator, who was terrific, noted that many Boards have term limits to make sure that new ideas and viewpoints are always represented.  That concept made sense to me, and I told Board leadership that it was time for me to step aside — and now that time has come.

I was recruited to the Ohioana Board by a female partner at our firm who was one of a long line of Vorys lawyers who had served.  I’m glad she reached out to me, because otherwise I probably never would have heard of Ohioana, or had a chance to get to know the great people who have worked so hard at Ohioana, my fellow Board members from across the Buckeye State, and the volunteers, authors, and artists who have helped to make Ohioana events such memorable ones.  Being a Board member on a charitable organization requires dedication and hard work, but it is rewarding.  I’m glad I did it.

Our firm will continue to be represented on the Ohioana Board by a new, energetic lawyer whom I’ll call Young Buck.  He’ll be a great addition.

Books, Books, Authors, Food Trucks, Books

Get out your calendars, your book bags, and your wallets. The 2014 Ohioana Book Festival is less than a month away.

IMG_3700This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in downtown Columbus. The doors will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4:30, and in between the readers among us will be able to browse through a wide array of books, meet authors, listen to writers talk about their craft, and enjoy an interesting assortment of food trucks when their physical hunger overwhelms their intellectual curiosity. You can keep track of the authors, and the Festival schedule, here.

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Festival, you can information about available positions and activities here. Book festival volunteers will receive a cool Ohioana Book Festival t-shirt, as well as the undying gratitude of Ohioana staffers and Board members.

Letting Columbus Food Trucks Roam

Earlier this week Columbus City Council passed legislation that, for the first time, will allow food truck owners to sell their wares from parking spots on city streets. Previously, food trucks were restricted to selling only on private property.

IMG_3701Columbus politics are known for moderation and consensus, and the food truck legislation was no different. The vote on the law was unanimous, after City Council worked with food truck owners interested in greater access and restauranteurs concerned about safety issues raised by patrons congregating in the areas between food trucks and brick and mortar dining establishments.

Under the new legislation, food trucks will be able to park in the first or last parking spots on blocks in most commercial areas. In high-traffic areas, like the Short North, the food trucks will need to reserve one of 20 designated spots. Food trucks also will be subject to health and fire inspections and must buy a license and pay for an annual street parking permit. The legislation also established an advisory board that will periodically review the food truck rules and consider whether they need to be revised.

This is a great development for those of us who are food truck fans and love the passion, diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit — not to mention the tasty and interesting grub — that food trucks bring to Columbus. I’m hopeful that those of us who work on Gay Street, which as the coolest street in downtown Columbus is home to a number of restaurants already, will be happily surprised to see a food truck or two parked on our block as temperatures warm and we move into the food truck season.

Ohioana Book Festival

I promised to post something about the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival last Saturday, and I’ve been remiss.

IMG_3700The Festival keeps getting bigger and better.  Having stood behind a table at the front entrance to the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center for four hours, giving away Ohioana quarterlies and pencils to visitors and hawking $5 Ohioana coffee mugs and tote bags — and thanks to every book lover who was gracious enough to accept my spiel and pony up a fiver, by the way — I can say with confidence that there were a lot of people there.   Positioned as I was directly across from the book-buying check-out line, I can also say that many books were being sold.

There were families and reading friends, would-be authors and genre fans.  At times, during the interim periods after one set of panel discussions ended and before the next began, the authors’ table area was jammed.  The picture above, taken from my table near the entrance, gives you some idea of the crowd.

Everyone I spoke to was enjoying the Festival and was glad they came.  Next year, maybe you can join us?

Shiznite, Good Night!

IMG_3704If you live in Columbus, go on the Green Meanie website, find out where it’s going to be over the next few days, and see if they are going be be serving their Shiznite sandwich.  If they are, do yourself a favor — take some time, drive to wherever they are going to be, and have the Shiznite.  It is that good.

According to the hand-lettered menu, the Shiznite is a panko-crusted dirty water hot dog on a New England roll with jalapeno cream cheese.  It is then topped with thick chopped bacon, avocado, onions, diced tomato, scallions, and cilantro, and drizzled with this butt-kicking shiznite sauce.  I tried it during the Ohioana Book Festival today — more on that tomorrow — and it was spectacular.  I don’t even like half of these ingredients, and I consumed the entire sandwich with relish, licked my fingers, and enjoyed every instant of the experience.  Seriously, the Shiznite is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.