Story and photography by Mical Hutson

Steamboat Springs, CO - We all know the Yampa Valley offers the lightest powder, coolest historic barn photo ops and the sweetest little river ride through town. You might also say that Steamboat Springs has become a bibliophile utopia.

Literary Sojourn’s 20th anniversary event sold out in 2012 long before the average person had a chance to grope for their snooze button, and with this same enthusiasm Steamboat witnessed the birth of the inaugural Book Feast last year. It was the launch of what now promises to be an annual children’s book festival – an all-day literary event that offers K- through eighth-graders an experience to interact with award-winning authors and illustrators of books they adore.

“We wanted to make an event for kids that would inspire them to become writers, authors and illustrators and give them a chance to meet the creators of the stories that they love to read,” says Sarah Kostin, youth services librarian at Bud Werner Memorial Library. “It’s inspiring to meet authors and to hear their stories. We don’t get a chance to do that very often. Not only do kids get to meet the authors, but it’s a chance for them to interact with other children who love to read.”

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Book Feast returns for its second hoorah. This year, Yampa Valley’s youth can devour author talks and workshops with Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins, Jeannie Mobley, Claudia Mills and Kathleen Pelley. Admiring fans will hear firsthand stories of science, whimsy and historical fiction, and learn about the back stories that went into creating each book. Young readers can ask authors their burning writerly questions and have their books signed.

The day also includes world-class storyteller Paul Taylor and the Buntport Theater Company, performing what promises to be an uproarious performance of an original book-related play.

Aspiring local writer and artist Annie Zander, 13, was at last year’s Book Feast. “I learned so much about writing,” she says. “I met a lot of new people who love the same books I do and enjoy the same experiences.”

“The kids just zing with excitement when the day is over,” pipes in Annie’s mother, Janelle Zander. “Kids like Annie are such fans of the worlds created by these people and to actually meet them face-to-face puts them on cloud nine for days and months, and for some of these kids, its effects are probably life-long.”

Book Feast is not just for kids. Last year’s event drew teachers and children’s librarians from around the state. To meet their needs, additional teacher-focused workshops will be added to the 2013 lineup. Jeannie Mobley will instruct educators on how to incorporate historical fiction into the Common Core curriculum.

Above all, workshops and presentations will abound for kids. Australian storyteller and didgeridoo player Paul Taylor will teach them how to make and play their own didgeridoo. This world entertainer has garnered national awards including the Parent’s Choice Gold Award and performed at events as diverse as the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Book Feast is a nonprofit event organized by Bud Werner Memorial Library, Steamboat Springs School District, Steamboat Springs Art Council and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. It is also an opportunity for individual donors to become involved in giving local youth a day where books come to life. Like Literary Sojourn for adults, Book Feast gives younger book-lovers a boost that lasts all year. To quote self-declared literary geek and local columnist Delaney Ziegman, 12, “There’s no sport in reading. No competitive spirit, it’s just a matter of love.” 

More info about the authors, tickets and the event schedule at www.steamboatlibrary.org/childrens-book-feast