I'm going to congratulate myself: holding a book fair at a craft brewery was a stroke of genius. Authors benefited from customers who stopped by Mother Stewart's Brewing Company for a beer and socialization, and the brewery benefited from customers who stopped by for the book fair. Authors bought some libations, too. In addition to a happy exchange of customers, the unique facility really got authors talking.
"This is such a cool place!" was the general comment regarding the venue, even though getting there was a little tricky for some and there was a bit of confusion over where to park. Authors exclaimed over the massive, old beams, the exposed brick walls, and the general appeal of the brewery.
Effusive thanks must go to Marty Laengle, the brewery's business/marketing director, for his much-appreciated assistance in getting the Springfield Book Fair off the ground and helping authors find their assigned places to set up their tables. Unlike most such events, authors had to bring their own tables and chairs.
Schmidt's Sausage Truck enjoyed some extra business as vendors' empty tummies rumbled. Here's an endorsement: I dislike sausage. Bratwurst and wieners are not my thing. I caved and purchased a pork bratwurst with sauerkraut. I liked it and wouldn't argue over eating it again. Folks, if it can convert someone with a long-term dislike of sausage, it must be good. By the way, beer goes really well with bratwurst.
I won't sneeze at attendance. In the first hour, I saw more people wandering among the vendor tables than I did at the last three events I attended. Fabulous! Brewery customers who hadn't known about the event wandered through vendor displays and declared their interest and appreciation. I heard many exclamations along the lines of "This is great!" from customers taking advantage of a unexpected opportunity to chat with writers and check out their books. Authors overall appeared pleased with both the venue and the attendance. I know I did better than at all the previous book fairs in 2017 and 2018 combined.
As always, I enjoyed meeting fellow authors. I didn't circulate much, mostly due to an obligation to keep an eye on things. Control freak that I am, I felt obligated to make sure that everything ran smoothly. I deliberately positioned my table at the bottleneck between tap room and vat room so keep an eye on comings and goings, but no one alerted me to any issues. I don't think vendors missed not having seminars or workshops or contests or event-sponsored door prize drawings. We kept it simple: authors, books, people. And one jewelry vendor who crafts chain maille jewelry. She expressed satisfaction with the event, too. Ah, happiness all around.
So, now that the book fair is over, it's time to reflect on what went right, what not to do next time, what to improve, and the lessons learned. I originally anticipated a much smaller event: a dozen authors. We had 21 vendors total. I asked authors to write thank-you notes to Mother Stewart's Brewery, because good manners never goes amiss. Thanks go to Jenna, the high school senior whom I hired as our helper. She watched over tables and helped with fetch-and-carry, because many of us are older folks who are at the edge of or have descended into decrepitude. Goodness knows I'm not as strong or spry as I used to be.
I consider the Springfield Book Fair successful. I admit to trepidation and worry. Any first-time event is uncertain. However, I think we could turn this into a seasonal event. Who's up for a winter book fair in 2019? Should the brewery owners want to co-sponsor another book fair, we'll continue to keep it small and friendly.
Authors showed their generosity with donations to the Clark County Public Library:
Thanks to all who contributed books!
My idea should catch on: Hold events like this in a popular place where people want to go.