Hundreds of colorful Oklahoma characters gathered at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center in Shawnee on November 2-3 for the 2007 Red Dirt Book Festival sponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Pioneer Library System.
Discussion centered around the theme for the event, Oklahoma Character, which was explored and developed through more than 50 programs and workshops presented by authors and publishing professionals from the state. A team of scholars from local universities was also on-hand to help guide the discussion and to offer a final report of the process based upon their observations.
The biennial event has grown in popularity each year and for some, like OU student Kimberly Ventrella, it can even be life-changing.
“The event holds a special meaning for me, since it was at the Red Dirt Book Festival on Halloween weekend in 2005 that I fi rst considered the idea of becoming a librarian,” Ventrella recalls. “I had come to the festival with my writing partner to attend the writing workshops. However, after listening to two children’s librarians talk about how they had become published authors, I started to think that being a librarian might not be such a crazy idea. The Monday after the conference, I applied to the SLIS program at OU.”
According the Anne Masters, Director of the Pioneer Library System, the festival is truly a Pioneer event with many staff volunteering their time to serve on the Steering Committee and help on the two days of the festival. It is also a Pottawatomie County event, because it receives support from businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the county.
Planning has already begun for the 2009 edition of the Red Dirt Book Festival with the announcement of its theme, Imagine Oklahoma.