LitFest Pasadena, the city's first community-wide book festival that featured more than 50 exhibitors, dozens of California authors, children’s events, and several panel discussions, held its inaugural event on Saturday, May 12 on the grounds of Pasadena’s Central Park.
A steady stream of bibliophiles came through the park all day, visiting exhibitors that ranged from Angel City Press to Vroman’s Bookstore and attending panels such as “Los Angeles Noir Fiction,” “Where New York Dominates, L.A. Innovates: Six Local Publishers,” “Youth Knows No Bounds: Breaking Cliques and Cliches of YA Literature,” and “Cookbooks in the Age of Epicurious.” At the Once Upon a Time booth staffer Kris Vreeland praised the LitFest. “We’ve had quite a few people coming through here,” she said while ringing up a sale, “and it’s going just great. There’s so much potential for this to grow in the future.”
The number of non-local people that attended LitFest impressed Tyson Cornell of Rare Bird Literary. “Pasadena is insular, but there’s a good representation here from the outer communities as well.” Vroman’s Nicole Balderrama also saw a lot of new faces in the booth. “It’s a really good turnout,” she said, “and I think we’ll pick up some new customers here.”
Larry Wilson, longtime editor of the Pasadena Star-News and now a journalism instructor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, is the managing director of LitFest. “Originally we wanted an arts festival, but other members of the organizing committee asked for a literary event and we took it from there.” The Pasadena community donated $15,000 toward LitFest, and actual expenses came in under that amount. “We still have a bit of money in the bank account,” a pleased Wilson said.
Authors on hand for the LitFest included Susan Straight, Denise Hamilton, Gary Phillips, Cecil Castellucci, Janet Fitch, Ron Koertge, Judith Freeman, and Susan Sherman. “It was such a blast attending the birth of a new festival, and the delivery came off without a hitch,” said Sherman, author of The Little Russian. “Kudos to the sponsors and volunteers of the festival, as these events are so important to the health of the literary community. It’ll be fun watching the LitFest grow over the years.” An estimated 1,800 people attended the event, which will be held again in 2013.