As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Texas, one of the state’s signature annual events has decided to go virtual in 2020. This year’s Texas Book Festival will take place entirely online, organizers announced Wednesday.
The festival, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, was originally set to take place Nov. 7 and 8 in and around the Capitol. Instead, the festival now plans to put on a slate of virtual programming Oct. 31 through Nov. 15, "sixteen straight days of engaging, enlightening and educational programming," according to an announcement.
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Though a lineup has yet to be announced, organizers said the virtual festival will feature more than 125 authors. Event programming will be free, organizers said, just like the physical festival’s panels and sessions. The Texas Teen Book Festival also will take place during the main event’s two-week span.
"Nothing will stop us from bringing people together around books, including a global pandemic," Lois Kim, the festival’s executive director, said in a statement. "We are committed more than ever to serving our community and excited that people from all over Texas, the country, and the world can participate in this year’s festival."
The festival’s annual First Edition Literary Gala fundraiser, which typically kicks off the weekend’s events, also will find a home online Nov. 6.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the festival has put on several virtual events. It will host a discussion with "How We Fight For Our Lives" author Saeed Jones, in partnership with the Austin360 Book Club, at 7 p.m. Thursday. Jones was a panelist at last year’s Texas Book Festival and won a Kirkus Prize for his memoir.
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The Texas Book Festival was co-founded in 1995 by Laura Bush, then first lady of Texas, along with Mary Margaret Farabee and volunteers. It draws major literary talent and celebrities to Austin each year; past guests include Tom Hanks, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, John Grisham, Sandra Cisneros, Lauren Groff and Malcolm Gladwell.
For more information, go to texasbookfestival.org.