Tucson, AZ

Tucson Festival Of Books To Go Completely Virtual

Greyson F

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Outside of GEM Fest and the Rodeo, the Tucson Festival of Books may be the biggest annual event in the city. Book lovers from across the country flock to Tucson at the beginning of March to discover new authors, take in panels, and share their love of the written word. 

The Tucson Festival of Books has been running since 2009 and springs to life right in the middle of the University of Arizona Mall (with select events taking place around town and on-campus). The event came to pass in order to help improve literacy rates in Southern Arizona and to give back to the community. As of 2019, the event has raised and donated over $1.65 million to literary programs in Arizona.

However, while in the past the event has taken over the University of Arizona Mall, that won’t be the case this year. For 2021, the event will be completely digital. Hopefully, things can return back to normal for the 2022 event, as it has always been a fantastic time for book lovers to come together (not to mention enjoy the weather before the true heat hits), but for now, the virtual event will need to suffice. 

The main benefit to the event being virtual is it has the potential of reaching even more guests this year, as people from around the globe who are usually not able to attend can do so. As one of the top 25 book festivals in the country, according to Vacation Ideas, it is near the top when it comes to book events. 

The Festival, as well as its main partners (University of Arizona, TMC Healthcare, and the Arizona Daily Star) recently announced dates and activities for the newly virtual event. 

It will kick off on Friday, March 5 at 5:30 PM. National Public Radio host Scott Simon will host the event and will bring on several guests, including Willy Vlautin, Lisa See, and Billy Collins, the United States Poet Laureate. All of this is scheduled for the very first evening, so things will get kicked off with a bang. 

Throughout the three-day event, there will be a number of authors sitting down for discussions. This includes some rather big-name authors. Some of the current authors scheduled to take part this year include Mark Adams, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, J.A. Jance, Craig Johnson, Leonard Puts, Lisa See, and Gail Sheehy. 

As the event was designed to bring attention to child literacy rates in Arizona there are all kinds of activities and events for children. For parents struggling to find school-related activities for their at-home children, this will provide the perfect opportunity to help educate and entertain. On Saturday morning there will be events like Tangled Webs of Magic and Intrigue, Imagination, Dreams and Wishes, and Kids Love Comics: Max Meow Drawing Workshop. Later in the day, there will be activities such as Brick x Brick: A Workshop With LEGO Master Adam Ward, GraphixCon: A Celebration of Graphic Novels, Survival and Hope in an Unfair World, and Stand Up, Speak Up in the Face of Adversity. 

For 2021 there will be no need for volunteering, so while most years there is a staff of over 2000 volunteers taking part in the event, that will not be the case this time around. If you have donated your time in the past the Tucson Festival of Books wants to thank you for your help. However, you can still donate to the event. The money helps keep the festival alive and well, not to mention a large portion of the proceeds are donated back to the local community. You can donate however you’d like, although there are three different donation tiers available on the website. This includes a “Memorial/Tribute” tier, if you’d like to donate in the memory of a loved one, there’s a “Friend of the Festival” tier, which will include early tickets to future events, a fall sneak peek, volunteer sign-up priority, a Hot Off The Press invite, plus a book is donated in your name. 

Lastly, there is a “Sponsor” tier, which is a $1,000 gift and up. For this you’ll receive a sponsor badge, access to Friday night events, receive a festival guide, and you can have your own exhibitor booth if you want to put on display your books or meet with visitors of the event. 

While the event will be different this year, the Tucson Festival of Books will continue on, and hopes you will take part and join the festival for its 2021 virtual activities. 

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