Free California Capital Book Festival debuts in Sacramento

San Franciscan Cara Black, whose latest novel is “Murder in Pigalle,” is participating in this weekend’s inaugural California Capital Book Festival, the city’s first book festival since the 1990s.
San Franciscan Cara Black, whose latest novel is “Murder in Pigalle,” is participating in this weekend’s inaugural California Capital Book Festival, the city’s first book festival since the 1990s. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

One way to estimate the literacy of a city is the presence of book festivals starring a lineup of authors. Another way is through one-book programs, in which the public is invited to read the same title and participate in related events.

The Sacramento Public Library has sponsored a one-book program since 2005, and its annual literary gala and fundraiser, “Authors On the Move,” since 2003. But it hasn’t had a broadly focused book festival since Sacramento Reads – A Celebration of Words in the 1990s.

Now along comes the newly formed Capital EventWorks with this weekend’s inaugural California Capital Book Festival.

“I’ve wanted to do a book festival for years,” said Marion Englund, president of Details Details, a Sacramento meeting- and event-planning company and the founding force behind the new festival.

“I’ve been to book festivals around the country, and I love watching C-SPAN’s “Book TV,” which covers all the book festivals,” she said. “I’ve always thought, ‘Why in the world doesn’t Northern California have one?’ I took notes for four years, and I have a 4-inch-thick folder of the wonderful things we could do at a festival. Two years ago, I decided to quit taking notes and do something about it.”

Englund formed Capital EventWorks with Kelli Hannaford, an event planner at Details Details, and Fred Palmer, publisher of Sacramento’s Outword magazine.

Though they corralled 100-plus authors in all genres to participate – including Bee Book Club alums John Lescroart, Cara Black, Rhys Bowen, Terry Shames and Aquanetta Gordon – they expanded the template with programs focused on sports, pets and children.

“It was a way to get to the special-interest (segment),” Englund explained. “If we had just said, ‘Come to a book festival,’ a lot of people may not have been interested. But if we said, ‘Come to a book festival and hear about sports, we have programs for pet owners, get your children involved in activities,’ they would be more interested.”

The Sacramento Kings, River Cats and Republic will be represented on the “Field of Sports” stage, along with former Sacramento Monarchs superstar Ruthie Bolton for her memoir “The Ride of a Lifetime.” Also: panel discussions, sports memorabilia displays and sales, and tales of local sports history and lore.

The “All Things Pets” area will offer advice on pet ownership and alternative medicine, plus pet adoptions and “dog sports” demonstrations.

At “Kid’s Alley,” children can listen to storytellers, have their photos taken with storybook characters, and meet some of their favorite authors.

“School of Comics” will feature Eben E.B. Burgoon, who will teach two classes on the art-and-words magic of creating graphic novels.

Leigh Rubin will be on hand to talk about his “Rubes” comic strip, which appears Mondays through Saturdays in The Bee.

Douglas Gayeton (“Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America”) and Ying Compestine (“Cooking With an Asian Accent”) will talk about food – growing it and cooking it.

Poetry will be represented with readings and open-mike opportunities. The segment was organized by Bob Stanley, former Sacramento poet laureate and president of the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Above all, though, the event will be a book festival with emphasis on authors. Among them will be Brenda Novak (“A Matter of Grave Concern”), Robin Burcell (“The Kill Order”), Chris Enss (“Love Lessons From the Old West”), Christian Kiefer (“The Infinite Tides”), Cindy Sample (“Dying for a Daiquiri”), Michael Spurgeon (“Let the Water Hold Me Down”), Jodi Angel (“You Only Get Letters From Jail”), Bee senior writer Peter Hecht (“Weed Land”), Bee wine and food writer Chris Macias and Aquanetta Gordon (“Echoes of an Angel”) and Victoria Loustalot (“This Is How You Say Goodbye”).

Conjoined to the festival is the Walk4Literacy fundraiser, a 4-mile trek from McClatchy Park to the Sacramento Convention Center. It’s sponsored by the Sacramento Library Foundation, a festival partner.

The trek is timed to arrive at 10 a.m. at the convention center, where the walkers will join festival participants for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the inaugural event. For details and to register:

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

California Capital Book Festival

WHAT: The inaugural book festival organized by Capital EventWorks

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J. St., Sacramento

COST: Free

INFORMATION: (916) 307-1713,