I spent last Saturday at the Sonoma Book Festival in Santa Rosa, California, standing at table number 51 from nine in the morning until four o’clock in the afternoon. It was the first time I had been to that particular festival and I learned a great deal. It is information I will need should I decide to do it all again next year.
First, is is very important to know where your table will be located. I had no idea about that until I arrived. The gods must have been kind to me because I was smack in the middle of the long line of tables. I was not one of the unfortunates not at the end of the line close to the caterer’s truck on one side or the Andy Gumps on the other. Should you ever register for a festival be sure you specify your choice of location.
Secondly, do ask if the sponsers of the festival include a tablecloth and two chairs along with the wooden fold up table itself. I did not. Luckily, they did provide two chairs so that I didn’t need to stand all day long. But no cloths. Again the gods must have been looking out for me because as an afterthought, I grabbed a comforter off my couch and threw it into my car, not even thinking about how I might need it. It was the only thing I had to use as a substitute tablecloth. It didn’t fit at all but it was better than nothing. I placed it over as much of the wood table as possible and placed my copies of Becoming Alice on its fringes so as to cover the line between cloth and bare wood. I hoped my visitors wouldn’t notice.
Lastly and most important of all, ask for a table in the shade! This festival in Santa Rosa took place when the temperature was about ninety degress. The sponsors were wise enough to provide an overhead cover for the exhibitors and their tables, but not for the walkway between the two rows of exhibitors. Visitors needed to walk in the open, with only a narrow part of the walkway in shade. Again I was in luck. The sun was located behind my table in such a fashion that my visitors were comfortable in the shade the entire day.
My sympathy went out to my neighbors across the walkway who had, all day long, the space in front if their set-up in full sun. Their space itself happened to be magnificent: a square space which looked like a living room, covered by a campers tent. Inside was a couch, end table and lamp, area rug, and bar displaying at least a dozen books by numerous authors. A handful of visitors stopped in the cool hours of the morning but the large number of choices on the bar confused them. That issue plus the blazing sun made it a very long day for them. They, like me, will have learned a lot from this particukar festival.
As for me, with a table covered only half way by a comforter with fringes and the display of only one book, I am happy to say Becoming Alice did very well for herself.