This Saturday’s Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival may be scaled-down compared to previous years but there is still plenty for young readers and their families to get excited about this weekend.
While organizers have reduced the number of authors and illustrators to about 70, just under half of what had become the typical turnout, much of what makes the day special remains intact. Children will be able to meet some of their favorite authors in a celebration of reading, literacy and fun for everyone.
“I’ve always known if we couldn’t do it safely, we wouldn’t do it and now we absolutely feel we can do it safely, especially (as) the vaccination rate keeps rising in our area and the schools are doing a great job at containment,” said festival Executive Director Dawn Greenberg. “We’ve had one author back out because of underlying conditions but we feel confident, and our authors feel confident, we can do it right and safely.”
All visitors at least two years old will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, Greenberg said. However, reservations to attend at one-hour intervals that had been announced last May have been scrapped, she said. With various precautions being taken that was no longer deemed necessary.
The festival, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be in a new location this year. It has been moved to the Chappaqua train station parking lot, which will allow the authors’ and sponsors’ tents to be about 10 feet apart and in a new configuration. Volunteers will make sure to encourage social distancing should it get crowded.
There will also be plenty of parking available for those who drive toward the back lot at the train station near the Chappaqua Farmers Market.
In recent years, the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival had been held on the opposite side of South Greeley Avenue on the grounds of Robert E. Bell Middle School.
Greenberg said the day will still be a special celebration. There will be four read-along sessions held, and similar to last week’s New Castle Community Day, authors will bring items with them to create a sense of the community coming together again and sharing stories, she said.
There will also be a celebration of the 25th year of Biscuit, the popular bestseller used to launch the “My First I Can Read Series” from HarperCollins, and the late children’s author, Jean Craighead George, who had been a Chappaqua resident. The Town of New Castle will soon dedicate a town park in her memory.
Then, of course, there are the authors and illustrators. While it was difficult to pare down the roster from 150 to about 70, Greenberg said, many of the favorites from previous festivals will return. Dan Gutman will be back, as will Chris Grabenstein, The New York Times best-selling children’s writer, and many others.
“There’s a lot going on, a lot to celebrate,” Greenberg said. “We just need the weather to cooperate.”
New Castle Acting Supervisor Jeremy Saland said the town owes a debt of gratitude for the efforts of Greenberg and a small army of volunteers who organize and hold the annual event. Last year’s festival was canceled because of the pandemic.
“It is just an incredible testament to their energy and vision, and it really shows off this town as a can-do community, so I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Saland said.
Visitors can buy lunch from one of four food trucks or get a snack from two ice cream carts that will be at the festival.
For more information about the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and for a complete list of the authors who will be attending this year, visit www.ccbfestival.org. The event is scheduled to be held rain or shine.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/