Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Printers Row Lit Fest 2015

Rubbing shoulders with other book lovers is a heady experience. In June I attended my first Printers Row Lit Fest. I’d heard about this annual event before, but never attended because I was intimidated by its location in the South Loop of Chicago. This year, I’m striving to be bolder so I left the green cornfields of Indiana with my travel-wise daughter and headed west. With an easy hour and a half drive, Mapquest put us at a parking garage one block from the festival.

The street was cordoned off for tented vendors. We passed booths of books sold by genre such as cooking or mystery and publishers booths representing multiple genres. Other booths sold photos or posters, T-shirts or book bags. Excitement filled the air as the crowds grew. There was not enough time before the scheduled activities to see everything, but one book caught my eye.


 "Hey, there a book by my author friend Lisa Lickel," I said.

                                                        And there’s Lisa!”

I was thrilled to meet Lisa after being crit partners years ago on this very book series and being part of the Barn Door blog which she hosts. After a brief chat with Lisa, we rushed to the first cooking demo.

Summer Miller, author of “New Prairie Kitchen” showed us how to make fresh-off-the-cob corn chowder. The hour passed quickly and my daughter stayed in the Good Eating Stage for other demos with such noted author cooks as Rick Bayless, “Mexico One Plate at a Time”, who also appears regularly on PBS TV.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed a panel discussion by Chicago’s top dramatic podcasters Keith Ecker, Erin Kahoa, Ryan Duke, and Clayton Faits. I learned audio podcasting can be done well with simple or sophisticated equipment, depending on your purpose, but mostly it is a team effort of combined skills.

Only one program disappointed me. When the emcee gave a profanity-and-topic disclaimer, (in response to the look on my front row face?) and proceeded to break my 3 F-word rule in the next sentence, I left. So many other exciting sessions remained, such as the photo below shows.

Three actors from the Bruised Orange Theater Company performed dramatic readings of real, uncensored personal ads from the Chicago area such as, "I saw you on the corner of Dearborn at 2 am in the morning and was drawn to your wavy red hair glowing in the street light. I really only wanted to help you fix your bicycle. There was no need to run away. I'd forgotten I was in that Zombie costume. Anyway, would you like to meet?" As billeted, they were so real you’d think they were fiction. We laughed heartily.

Chicagoans read their Mystery Writers Flash Fiction contest submissions and I participated as a 'Q' in a Q & A session with authors Sara Paretsky and Clare O'Donohue.

The day passed far too swiftly. With staggered performances and activities I had to choose programs. I didn’t attend any poetry or writing workshops. I missed the children’s book readings and fun activities and YA programs, as well as all of the various evening sessions. Yet, what a satisfying, pleasurable experience.

The memory of the day still warms me, including our lunch experience at Amarit, a Thai restaurant at 600 S. Dearborn. They served the freshest, most amazingly delicious sushi we’d ever tasted. It was so good we stopped again for a second order before we headed home and my daughter returned this past weekend. If you don’t care for Thai food, there’s plenty of other choices within a block or two of the Fest. After all, it is Chicago.  

Printers Row Lit Fest runs two days with pay-for activities and workshops as well as numerous free events, such as what we attended. We had such a good time that I’m sure we will visit future Lit Fests. Perhaps INACFWers  should plan a trip next year. Anyone up for it?

Mary Allen has authored numerous articles and three books of poetry. She speaks at the La Porte Christian Women's Club in July and performs poetry at the La Porte Arts in the Park programs June 26 and July 23. 

After the past year’s planned hiatus, she looks forward to again contributing to Hoosier Ink. Follow the link on her name to like her page.

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