CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Thousands of local residents gravitated to New Castle for the inaugural Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival held throughout the day Saturday, Oct. 5 at Robert E. Bell Middle School’s campus.
Organized by Aurora owner Dawn Greenberg since March, the festival was an overwhelming success as more than 60 local authors were on hand to meet and greet young readers with their books available for purchase.
“It is simply thrilling to have this amount of talent in downtown Chappaqua all at once,” Greenberg said. “Nothing is more exhilarating than watching these kids – and even some of the parents – recognize their favorite children’s author.”
Greenberg said that based off of the amount of foot traffic the festival had already by noon, she thought the final number of visitors would fall somewhere in between 3,500 and 4,500.
“Our website had 6,000 hits yesterday, so we knew we’d see a lot of people,” Greenberg said. “But it’s still very exciting to have those expectations met. This is actually even more than I expected. Thankfully, the weather held up; Chappaqua is just exquisite this time of year.”
Along with authors at tables with their books, live costumed characters such as author Nick Bruel’s popular “Bad Kitty” roamed the festival for pictures with children. Additionally, food was available for from Good Dish, including some fun literary-themed lunches.
The Great Chappaqua Bake Sale also had desserts and treats available for purchase, with all proceeds going towards Share Our Strength’s Bake Sale to raise money to help feed hungry children.
Off to the side, in a quiet location, authors Alan Katz, Charise Mercile Harper, Jerry Craft, Bruel, Jean Van Leeuwen and Gloria Pinkney performed live readings of their books. Harper, a Mamaroneck resident, read a book from her “Bean Dog and Nugget” series.
“This is such a beautiful setting, I had never been to Chappaqua,” Harper said. “The festival has been an absolute blast. It’s a treat to be around other authors and the people who actually have read your book.”
One of the more eye-catching author experiences of the day was nonfiction science author Vicki Cobb’s “toilet paper project,” where she was showing children the “fastest way to unroll toilet paper” with a very powerful leaf blower. It wasn’t long until a nearby tree looked like the morning after mischief night.
Cobb said the festival and its turnout was a testament to the industry.
“This goes to show you that books and children still go together,” she said. “There’s still room for it even with all that technology out there today.”
The festival was such a hit, Greenberg already has set the date for the second annual Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival.
“It’s official. We’ll be doing this again on Sept. 27, 2014,” she said.