Local authors and book lovers came together Saturday to celebrate all things literary at Brenau University’s second LitFest event at Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville.
Lainey Kennedy, assistant director of multimedia and theater services at Brenau, along with several others, decided to create Litfest as a way to connect readers with authors in their community.
“LitFest showcases all the aspects of English and the humanities. It’s also a good bridge between Brenau and the community,” she said. “While we have a lot of writing workshops going on that could benefit high school students, college students and anyone interested in fine tuning their writing skills, we also have lots of children’s activities and things for older adults.
“Reading certainly evokes emotion, as it should. Several kids were talking about one book this morning and it was so interesting listening to them, because they all had different opinions and reactions to it.”
A.R. Cook, Gainesville-based author of “The Scholar and the Sphinx” young adult book series, also helped in the creation of LitFest and was at Saturday’s event as a panel speaker for the “Sci-Fi Redefined” discussion.
“I primarily write with a focus on fantasy, and Litfest is such a good way to connect authors with people in the community,” Cook said. “Events like this were already happening elsewhere, and since Brenau has a large focus on humanities, it makes perfect sense to hold one.”
Cook has high hopes for the event in the future.
“We would love to be able to expand the event, possibly reaching out to other universities to bring the community an even wider range of presenters and authors. For next year’s event, we’re also already looking to incorporate aspects of film and screenwriting as well.”
Numerous performances, workshops and panel discussions were held throughout the day, where attendees could experience storytelling through songwriting, explore creating dynamic characters, write personal memoirs and share their own personal experience and advice by listening to published authors.
Several hands-on activities also ran throughout the day including a hand-lettering workshop with Blue Suede Bob, a local sign maker.
“I’ve been making hand-painted signs for the past four or five decades and currently work for several car dealerships in Gainesville as a windshield writer,” he said. “I came to Litfest last year and it was really the first time I’d ever had an opportunity to share this sort of art form with the public.”
Sommer Stockton, a book lover and senior mass communications student at Brenau, came to the festival dressed in full Harry Potter attire to represent her favorite series.
“This is my first time at LitFest because unfortunately I wasn’t able to go last year, but I’m amazed by how many local authors are here today,” she said. “The genres of their works are also very diverse and I feel like anyone who comes to this event could find something that they would enjoy.
“I’m just so passionate about reading and books in particular. Encouraging people to pick up a book or even write something themselves is like encouraging the pursuit of knowledge.”