The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, set this year for March 13-15 at the St. Petersburg Coliseum, is the oldest and largest event of its kind in the southeastern United States. Now, in its 34th year, it's expanding to include the SunLit Festival, a nine-day event focused on lietarure and culture.
From literary death matches where writers channel their best Mexican wrestling personas to fiction brought to life on stage, a poetry night hike and a literary pub crawl, SunLit’s offerings will attempt to show off the best of St. Petersburg’s lit scene.
The non-profit St. Petersburg Arts Alliance has gotten involved to help facilitate the event. John Collins, the Alliance’s executive director, said the three-year-old organization initially focused on visual arts through monthly art walks and other events. “But we want to support all of the arts in the city,” he said. “We’re trying to help [the festival] organize, and we hope that it will grow and attract sponsors.”
With the Alliance's involvement, the festival has caught the eye of other local arts organizations and, Collins said, many now "want to be involved with [the festival]." T. Allan Smith, a festival co-founder, said he hopes the event will continue to grow, possibly expanding to include the entire Tampa Bay region.
“I think it can become a premiere annual event that does more of what we’re already doing this first year,” Smith said.
The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair draws over 100 book dealers each year who offer books, as well as antique maps, prints, autographs, ephemera and more.