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.

Free, And Open To The Public

A reminder to all of you book lovers and readers out there:  the Ohioana Book Festival is today, at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, downtown.

The Ohioana Book Festival is free, easy to reach, and open to the public.  Parking is free, too.

It is one of the great, yet perhaps underappreciated, things about living in America — our country and our communities are chock full of civic organizations that put on street fairs, speeches, church festivals, neighborhood bazaars, and other activities that don’t cost a cent and are open to whoever would like to come.  The events tend to be put on by charitable groups and hard-working volunteers who support what the groups are doing.  They are the kind of quirky, non-cookie cutter activities that can give a weekend more flavor, introduce us to new friends, and draw communities closer together.

We’re lucky to have interesting events that are free and open to the public.  And speaking of which — the doors to the Book Festival open at 9:45, with panel discussions, a book fair, author signings, and other activities continuing throughout the day.


Big Book Buff Bulletin!

If you’re a bibliophile — and what rational person isn’t? — mark your calendars for Saturday, May 11, 2013, when the Ohioana Book Festival returns to the Fort Hayes campus in downtown Columbus.

IMG_3362This year, the Festival features a great list of featured authors from the Buckeye state, as well as dozens of different festival authors, poets, and artists who will be participating in the activities.  Once again, the Festival will confirm the remarkable depth and breadth of talent to be found in this little corner of the world.  And although the program schedule has yet to be announced, you can be sure that there will be interesting presentations by authors, thought-provoking panel discussions, and some quirky moments leavened with humor — because that’s what you tend to get when you bring together highly creative people.

I’ll be volunteering at the Festival again this year.  Last year, I was an “information volunteer,” which gave me a chance to harangue incoming guests are some of the great events.  If you’re interested in volunteering, you can find more information here.

I hope to see some of our readers and friends at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival!

It’s A Food Truck World

I worked hard at the Ohioana Book Festival today.  There was a big turnout, lots of books were purchased, and I helped to make sure that visitors who signed up for Ohioana information via email and spun a wheel got their prizes.

By the time my shift was over, I was a hungry camper.  Fortunately, the Ohioana folks had thoughtfully arranged for a rich menu of food trucks to satisfy those of us who might want to tie on the feedbag, waiting in a row just outside the entrance to the Festival.  And what terrific options!  Spinelli’s DeliPer ZootGreen MeaniePitabilities.  Jeni’s Ice Cream.  All getting raves for their food from ravenous bibliophiles.

I finally decided on Ajumama, which features Korean fare.  On the day before Mother’s Day, how could I not pick a place with “mama” in the name?

I had the Amdong Chicken, a mix of tender white and dark meat in a rich yet delicate sauce, served over some very tasty sweet potato noodles.  It was wonderful, and I ate every last morsel.  In fact, I would gladly have licked the bowl clean but for concern about public embarrassment.  If you get a chance, check Ajumama out — its appearance schedule is posted on Facebook and Twitter, and it appears regularly at the Hill’s Market in Worthington.  (I’m looking at you, Dr. Science.)

Food trucks are fabulous.  Take people whose dream is to cook and serve the food they love, put them on wheels, and let them move around Columbus, creating magical meals for the masses.

As the Ohioana Book Festival experience showed, Columbus’ food truck scene just keeps getting better and better.  This summer, we’ll be looking for the food trucks on weekdays in the vicinity of the Columbus Commons, to add a little spice to our humdrum workdays.  We’ll also be looking for a chance to grab some grub from Ajumama again — even if it isn’t Mother’s Day.

Let The Festival Begin!

C’mon, readers — it’s time to head out for the Ohioana Book Festival!

The doors open at 9:45, and the programs begin at 10 a.m. at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in downtown Columbus.  There will be interesting readings, enlightening discussions, and lots of friendly book-lovers browsing through reading options, hobnobbing with authors, and eagerly discussing their latest page-turning favorites.  There will be good food at some of Columbus coolest new food trucks and children’s activities and the pretty surroundings of the Fort Hayes campus.

If you are an avid reader, or a budding author, or a member of a book club, the Ohioana Book Festival is the place for you.

Into The Festive Mood

It’s time to get festive about books.  The Ohioana Book Festival is tomorrow, at the beautiful and historic Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus.

It’s supposed to be a lovely day, weather-wise, with temperatures in the 70s — perfect conditions for walking the Fort Hayes campus as you go from program to program.  You might want to start, say, with a morning program about fiction by women or juvenile literature, then dip your toe into the mystery writing area.  Over the lunch hour you can visit one of the great food trucks and food carts that will be there — Ajumama?  Green Meanie?  Jeni’s Ice Creams?  Sweet! — and then listen to music in the courtyard.  In the afternoon, aspiring writers can hear from experienced pros about how to get published.  And throughout the day you can visit the central areas where authors are giving readings, where books are sold, and where writers will gladly talk to you about their works.

The doors open at 10 a.m., and I’ll be there, holding down the Ohioana welcome table.  Stop by and say hello!

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home

If you live in Columbus, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone rave about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams — or, even better, you’ve experienced them yourself.  If you don’t live in Columbus, you really need to stop by just to try some of Jeni’s stunningly good ice cream.

Jeni Britton Bauer will be one of the featured authors at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, May 12 on the Fort Hayes campus.  She’ll be talking about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home — an ice cream cookbook that my friends say is spectacular, just like Jeni’s ice cream.  And anyone who reads cookbooks knows that a really good cookbook tells you a lot about the cook who wrote it.  From Jeni’s cookbook, I’m guessing that she will be a really interesting person to listen to.  She’ll be one of the authors participating in a panel discussion entitled Food:  The Seduction of Flavor at 11:45 a.m.  (Great title for the panel discussion, isn’t it?)  The YouTube video below tells you a little bit more about Jeni Britton Bauer and her ice cream passions.

What’s summer without a little ice cream?  If the ice cream is something fabulous like Jeni’s salty caramel, made at home, so much the better.  Jeni Britton Bauer alone is a good reason to stop by the Ohioana Book Festival this coming Saturday.

Time To Satisfy Your Summer Reading Jones

Sure, summer is great for activities — but it’s also great for reading.

Get a good book, stretch out on your patio furniture with a cool beverage, and read a little in the bright sunshine.  Or take your current paperback to a nearby park, sprawl on the cool grass under the leafy spread of a tree, and really get into the story.  Enjoy the sultry air as you reread a favorite novel and relish, anew, every beloved word.  Lose track of time and lose track of everyday cares as you lose yourself in a great story.

Central Ohio readers can start to get their summer reading jones on next weekend, when the Ohioana Book Festival rolls into town.  Events will be going on all week, and the Festival itself occurs on Saturday, May 12 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.  This year’s Festival will showcase nine featured authors and dozens more who will read from their creations and be available to sign books and talk about their work.

I’ll be there, somewhere, but don’t let that dissuade you!  The Ohioana Book Festival is a great time for Buckeye readers who want to stock up for those long, languid summer reading days — and nights.

Mark Your Calendars, and Put On Your Volunteer Hats

The 2012 Ohioana Book Festival will be held on May 12, 2012 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.  If you been to one of the prior book festivals, I know I’ll see you again this year.  If you’ve never been to one, and you like reading, give it a shot — I’m confident you will have some fun.

The 2012 Festival offers an eclectic mix of featured authors whose works run the gamut from Tom Batiuk’s classic Funky Winkerbean comic series to Jeni Britton Bauer’s delicious ice cream recipes to Donald Ray Pollock’s tales from Knockemstiff, Ohio — and everything in between.  You’ll have a chance to interact with the authors, listen to readings from lots of writers, buy books, and experience firsthand the vibrant literary community found in the Buckeye State.

The Book Festival is free and open to the public — which inevitably means we need volunteers to help make the event run smoothly.  I’ll be there, and I hope you’ll consider joining me.  If you’re interested, information about volunteer opportunities is available here.  Me?  I’ll gladly do whatever they ask me to do.