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The Arkansas Literary Festival (often called Lit Fest) is an annual celebration of literacy, language, and the written word. The event was begun by Arkansas Literacy Councils, Inc., (ALC) with the goals of increasing awareness of the importance of literacy and raising funds for adult literacy programs in Arkansas—all through a culturally vibrant event that highlights the state of Arkansas and its rich literary heritage. The festival started in 2002, and the Central Arkansas Library System took over management of the festival in 2008. Proceeds from the event benefit the state’s community-based literacy programs that recruit and train volunteers to help adults improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills.
The festival, based in Little Rock (Pulaski County) occurs the third weekend of April with activities for readers of all ages, abilities, and interests. At the core of the festival are the admission-free author sessions. Nationally recognized and emerging writers, many of whom are either native Arkansans or have some connection to the state, read from and talk about their books. Following each session are book sales and autograph sessions. Venues include libraries, restaurants, and gallery spaces in Little Rock’s River Market district.
Featured authors have included General Wesley Clark, Garrison Keillor, Connie Mae Fowler, Rick Bragg, William F. Buckley, Grif Stockley, Donald Harington, Jack Butler, and Kevin Brockmeier. C-SPAN2’s Book TV has taped author sessions. National Public Radio’s The Book Guys kick off the festival with a taping of two sessions for future broadcast.
The outdoor exhibit area offers musical entertainment, concessions, children’s craft activities, award ceremonies, exhibits, and more. Volunteers from literacy councils staff the main information booth to talk to people about receiving free tutoring or becoming literacy tutors.
In addition to the author sessions, the weekend offers special fundraising events such as the Children’s Breakfast, author parties, and VIP receptions.
Community partners contribute space for activities and staff to plan the festival. Such partners include the Clinton Presidential Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Oxford American magazine, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock Public Radio.
For additional information: Arkansas Literary Festival. http://www.arkansasliteraryfestival.org (accessed October 14, 2017).
Kinser, Sarah. “Delta Sources & Resources: Arkansas Literary Festival.” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies 36 (December 2005): 214–216.
Katie Eisenhower McMannersArkansas Literacy Councils, Inc.
Last Updated 1/10/2018
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