FRANKFORT — An estimated 3,200 people and more than 200 authors attended the 29th annual Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort on Saturday.
Among them was musician and songwriter Marshall Chapman, who signed copies of her latest nonfiction work, They Came to Nashville. It profiles 15 musicians, including Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris and Miranda Lambert. It was a busy week for Chapman, who just last Monday attended the Nashville premiere of the film Country Strong. In the film, she plays the road manager for lead actress Gwyneth Paltrow's character.
Last week also marked the release of bestselling novelist David Baldacci's latest thriller, Hell's Corner.
Before coming to Frankfort Saturday, Baldacci visited Paducah, where people from West Kentucky Community and Technical College and the community have been reading his Wish You Well as part of this year's One Book, One Campus, One Community Read. The book is set in the 1940s in the mountains of southwest Virginia.
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Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, created The Wish You Well Foundation, which supports family literacy in the United States.
Baldacci said the philanthropic nature of the Kentucky Book Fair is one of the reasons he wanted to appear.
"These book festivals ... are great for writers to go to, they are terrific for the community, and they also fund a lot of great causes. You get the whole package. It's really a win-win for everyone," he said.
Another book signing by Baldacci is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington Green.
Fair manager Connie Crowe said the fair raised $125,000 Saturday, down 11 percent from last year's $141,000.
"In light of the economy, we were very pleased," Crowe said.
Over the fair's 29-year history, it has awarded more than $300,000 in grants to public schools and libraries, Crowe said, noting $7,500 in proceeds were awarded to various organizations in mid-September.
At least 85 percent of the authors at the festival are either Kentucky natives, live here or were published by Kentucky presses.
One of those was Bobbie Ann Mason, writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.
"We have to keep people reading, and this is usually a very successful way of encouraging Kentuckians to keep reading," said Mason, who signed several of her award-winning works. Her first novel, In Country, was made into a film.
Author Ron Elliott, a native of Lincoln County, signed From Hilltop to Mountaintop, a book about Kentuckian Franklin Sousley, who was immortalized in a photograph of Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. Sousley died in the war shortly after the photograph was taken.
"Franklin was a just a good old Fleming County country boy," Elliott said.
Another Kentucky-connected author was former University of Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs, who signed Beyond a Dream, which he wrote about his late mother, Terri, and her battle with cancer. Krebs said he found courage through his mother and followed his own dreams.
Terri Krebs was given nine months to live in 2001, he said, but she lived for nine years. Krebs said he hopes his book will be an inspiration to others with cancer.
"She looked at her family and her kids and decided there is a lot to live for and a reason to fight," said Krebs.
Although he's been there as a Kentucky author in the past, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham visited the fair Saturday as a reader. The judge has written several books, including one about the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville called Castle: The Story of a Kentucky Prison.
"It's a lot more fun as a reader," he said.