Engler invited to state’s first book festival

Jerry Engler, author and journalist from rural Marion, has been selected to speak at the first state-sponsored festival created to showcase Kansas’s rich literary wealth.

Kansas Book Festival: Celebrating Books, Art & Kansas Heritage, is planned for Sept. 29-30 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita. The free event will include three stages that will showcase continuous performances, readings and workshops. An activities area will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students and families.

Engler, author of “Just Folks: Earthy Tales of the Prairie Heartland” and a reporter with the Free Press, has been selected to speak from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at one of the stages. He also will sign books for the public for an hour afterward.

Suzi Lenker of Book Kansas nominated Engler for the event because of his ability to speak to the public and the enjoyable literature he has created with the “delightful short stories” in his book, said Roy Bird, director of the Kansas Center for the Book.

The State Library of Kansas and the KCB will host the large pavilion under canvas that will include informational booths, book-seller vendor booths and author appearances.

In addition, visitors can listen to traditional music, enjoy cowboy poetry and western literature, hear stories of haunted Kansas, experience American Indian story-telling, meet characters from Kansas’s literary and historic past, attend tributes to Gordon Parks, Langston Hughes and other great Kansans, play games, and participate in hands-on activities.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said, “The Kansas Book Festival will provide an excellent opportunity to enhance cultural appreciation and awareness within our state. Literature, art and music are an important part of our history, and the Book Festival will allow Kansans to reflect on our heritage, and appreciate our past.”

Nicole Corcoran, press secretary for Sebelius, said the festival is the signature event of the Countdown to Kansas Statehood, and is produced by the Governor’s Cultural Affairs Council and the Kansas Center for the Book in cooperation with state and local organizations.

The family-friendly event will be free, and open to the public.

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