Crowd books it to New Bedford's newest festival for readers, authors

By Sandy Quadros Bowles
March 05. 2016 4:44PM
NEW BEDFORD — Book lovers helped write the latest chapter in New Bedford’s popular schedule of festivals.
The first New Bedford Book Festival proved such a draw that a second festival is scheduled, likely this fall, said Steve Froias, who developed the concept for the festival and organized the event along with Groundwork co-founders Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden.
The two-day festival attracted 200 visitors by 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Froias said. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Groundwork on Purchase Street.
“People have been telling me it’s long overdue to have something like this here,’’ he said. “Fifteen minutes after the door opened, people were streaming in.’’
The event was a hit even before those doors opened: Twenty-five authors could not be accommodated and were placed on a waiting list, Froias said.
The authors were “happy to connect with other authors,’’ he said. “And people were buying books, which they appreciate,’’ he said with a laugh.
Writers whose works were presented reflected a range of genres, including mysteries, history, memoirs, cookbooks and children’s literature.
One children’s book, “A Lobster’s Tale’’ shares the story of a lobster that manages to sweet-talk a young boy into keeping him out of the lobster pot and into his life.
The book, written by Michael P. Cifello, features local summer events, including the fireworks in Onset.
Another author at the festival shared the story of her mother’s happy childhood in New Bedford. Lisa Paquin Dunaway presented “Little Girl of Yesterday,” a compilation of stories written by her mother, Olive Weaver Paquin Brown, over the course of many years and left after her death as a gift for her children and grandchildren.
“I think she’d be very happy, especially since we are sharing so many happy stories’’ of her mother’s upbringing in the city’s North End, Dunaway said.
Joyce Keller Walsh of Lakeville was offering mysteries, as well as a Huck Finn-inspired story of a homeless family’s adventures in the vehicle they live in and a nonfiction book about a Fall River murder.
She described the fair as “marvelous. It’s great for the writers, it’s great for the readers,” she said.
“We’ve had terrific traffic,” she said. “I’m so optimistic about this going forward.’’
Follow Sandy Quadros Bowles on Twitter @SandyBowlesSCT.

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