Even with a down economy, the 28th annual Kentucky Book Fair posted good sales and a high attendance, Book Fair Manager Connie Crowe said.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the quantity and amount of sales,” she said.
Roughly between 3,000 and 5,000 attended and made purchases worth $141,000.
About 215 authors were present this year with 523 titles for sale. Nearly 7,300 books were sold.
“It shows that Kentucky and Frankfort are truly are book-loving and book-buying communities,” Crowe said.
One of the highest draws this year was Sen. George McGovern, who was on-hand to sell his book “Abraham Lincoln.”
Crowe said McGovern was a “true gentleman” and she was glad he could attend.
“He can come back to Kentucky anytime he wants,” she said.
Jamestown’s Donnie Wilkerson, an elementary school social studies teacher, said this was the second straight Book Fair he’s attended, “and I won’t miss another one.”
Wilkerson said he enjoyed listening to McGovern - the 1972 Democratic nominee for president - speak. Wilkerson said he thought McGovern’s views about getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq “are right on target.
“I’m still a registered Republican but I’m really a Libertarian. If I had to register today, however, I’d probably lean as a Democrat liberal. I supported President Obama. I don’t support his position in Afghanistan. We need to get out of both places (Afghanistan and Iraq) and take care of our soldiers.”
Wilkerson said he admires McGovern’s humanitarian efforts to feed hungry children around the world.
“In a positive connotation of bleeding heart liberal, he certainly is, and that’s a good thing,” Wilkerson said. “More of us need to bleed hearts a little bit. Compassion is the key.”
McGovern was late getting to the Book Fair because of a delayed flight to Lexington Friday night. He was supposed to sign books from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and then speak at 11:45. But he didn’t arrive at the downtown convention center until 11:20 a.m.
But it was worth the wait to hear McGovern speak, said Jim Hawk, a Huntington, W.Va. resident who’s said he’s attended at least 15 Book Fairs.
“He was very interesting,” Hawk said.
While waiting for McGovern to arrive, Hawk started reading one of his book purchases, “Root for the Cubs: Charlie Root and the 1929 Chicago Cubs.” Hawk said he’s still waiting for his dream World Series: the Cubs vs. the Boston Red Sox.
Hawk also bought Allan Eckert’s “Dark Journey,” Silas House’s “Eli the Good,” Charles Bracelen Flood’s “1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History,” several cookbooks for his mother for a Christmas gift, and McGovern’s new book, “Abraham Lincoln, the American Presidents Series.”
Lexington’s Melody Littrell and her daughter, April, were dressed alike in jeans and beige T-shirts saying “The Battle for State Pride, 11/7/09” in blue and maroon.
They were leaving the Book Fair in time to catch most of the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University football game on TV from Commonwealth Stadium.
A former UK student, April is now a senior education major at EKU. She said she likes both teams, “so I can’t lose today.”
They bought books totaling $70 and Melody said it was easier to maneuver through the crowd this year, which she liked.
In the early afternoon Louisville’s Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row alone across the Atlantic Ocean, said she was pleased with sales.
She was signing her book, “A Pearl In The Storm, How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean.”
“I’m doing OK,” she said. “The books are moving all right.”
She also was one of the speakers at Saturday’s event.
McClure, 46, said at Friday’s authors’ reception a woman told her she read her book last weekend and it was terrible.
“Then she said, after a pause, ‘It was terrible because I had other things I was supposed to be doing last weekend,’” and she couldn’t put the book down.
McClure smiled, saying, “Her pause was way too long.”
In June 1998 McClure set out to row across the Atlantic by herself in a 23-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. Within days she lost all communication with shore, but nevertheless decided to keep going.
Unfortunately 1998 is still on record as the worst hurricane season in the North Atlantic. In deep solitude and perilous conditions, she was nonetheless determined to prove what one person with a mission can do.
When she was finally brought to her knees by a series of violent storms that nearly killed her, she had to signal help and go home in what felt like complete disgrace.
Back in Louisville, Tori went to work for Muhammad Ali, who told her she didn’t want to be known as the woman who “almost” rowed across the Atlantic.
She knew he was right. And she successfully completed the 81- day rowing journey in 1999.
McClure said Saturday she’s always been an introvert, “and a very popular guinea pig for psychological testing, being such an oddball.”
Early in the book, she writes, “Let’s face it: Normal, well-adjusted women don’t row alone across oceans.”
McClure also was the first woman to ski over land to the South Pole.
Today she’s an administrator at Spalding University.
She has a master’s in divinity from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Louisville.