Decatur Book Festival confirms pause for 2023 after founder’s social media postSeren Davis, on left, sits with Agnes Scott classmate Julian Uhlman while reading a new book during the 17th annual Decatur Book Festival at First Baptist Church of Decatur on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — A social media post by the founder of the Decatur Book Festival made it sound like the festival will soon be no more.
But the Vice President of the Decatur Book Festival confirmed to Decaturish that the Book Festival is simply taking a year off while organizers reevaluate the event to make sure it is sustainable into the future.
“We’re planning to be back in October 2024,” Book Festival Vice President Leslie Wingate said. “We still have the weekend on reserve in Decatur. We have great partners, and great supporters. When COVID came, we had to rethink the festival already. We had to move away from the big street festival. We did the smaller version of the festival. We have to look at costs, volunteer time, and possible partners for the future too make it the most sustainable organization and thriving organization that it can be.”
The festival has not been the same since COVID. Before 2020, it was held on Labor Day weekend, the same weekend as Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta. When the festival returned, it moved to a weekend in October. The 2022 event was held on Oct. 1.
Book Festival Founder Daren Wang, who stepped down in 2017, made a Facebook post on March 20 that led to speculation about the event’s future.
“It was February 2005 when Marc Fitten, Tom Bell, and I sat around a table at Java Monkey and said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ 18 years on, and I’m getting calls from reporters to comment on its demise,” Wang wrote, adding, “Stay gold, Ponyboy.”
Readers contacted Decaturish asking for more information about the post.
Wingate soon jumped in on the thread with a clarification about what was happening.
“Hi Daren, as I think you know, I’m the VP of the Decatur Book Festival Board, and I can assure you and everyone reading your post, that this is not the demise of the festival,” Wingate wrote. “In fact, the festival is in the strongest financial shape it’s been in a very long time. The curtain is not closing on the festival — we just need to explore options and opportunities for its future.”
She then provided the following announcement, which you can read on the Book Festival’s website by clicking here.
Dear Community Friends,
Many of you have been wondering what’s on tap for this year’s Decatur Book Festival. We wanted to take a moment to inform you that the Decatur Book Festival will be taking a pause for 2023, with a plan to relaunch in 2024. As an organization, we have always been committed to bringing the literary community together and showcasing the best in literature. This commitment has prompted our team to take a step back and reevaluate short- and long-term festival planning and operations to solidify our ability to deliver stellar programming.
During this pause, we will continue partnering with local organizations by lending our name and providing promotional support.
Our goal is to create a sustainable and thriving organization that will continue to bring the best in literature to our community for years to come. We appreciate your support and understanding during this time and look forward to coming back stronger than ever.
We look forward to seeing you at partner events, and at the Decatur Book Festival in 2024.
– Decatur Book Festival
“It’s not the demise at all,” Wingate added in a follow-up phone interview with Decaturish. “We’re taking a pause here. We’re reevaluating some things. The festival is in good financial shape. We’re looking at some other opportunities and options. It’s time for an exploration, I would say.”
Wang removed the post shortly after Wingate chimed in about the festival’s future. He followed up with another post about the situation.
“I just got off the phone with Leslie Perry Wingate, the VP of the DBF board,” he wrote. “When I was still running the show, Leslie was one of the people that I could count on to make it happen. I posted earlier that I got a call about the demise of the festival, but it sure sounds like that was in error. Leslie tells me it will go on, and I absolutely believe her.”
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