Almost 50 local authors will be selling their books from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the first-ever Holiday Book Fair at Laurel Ridge Community College.
Readers can chat with the authors and browse their works in the Corron Community Development Center on the Middletown campus. The authors will either handle their own sales or coordinate through Winchester Book Gallery.
Organizer Andy Gyurisin, who previously owned the book gallery with his wife, Jennifer, from 2006 to 2011, said he was inspired by a holiday book fair that they hosted at the time for five authors.
“We had a fantastic turnout,” he recalled on Tuesday. “There was really this cool sense of community that we had.”
Most of the authors had written historical books about the area, he said. That made the holiday book fair, which was so small he said it didn’t have an official name, feel deeply rooted in downtown Winchester.
Now, with nearly 10 times the number of authors signed up under the banner of Laurel Ridge, he said he’s excited to see where the new holiday book fair takes them in the future.
“We were hoping for 30 authors, that was our goal, and we far exceeded that,” Gyurisin said.
Development officer at Laurel Ridge, Gyurisin was inspired after several area authors told him they wanted to get more involved with the college, a Laurel Ridge news release says. He approached Brandy Boies, Laurel Ridge director of public relations and special events and mayor of Strasburg, who jumped on board.
“We pulled together a group of colleagues,” she said on Tuesday. These included the staff at the campus library and in Boies’ office.
“Since the response has been really wonderful, we’d love to continue and make it a tradition each year,” Boies said.
Through the process of launching the book fair, Gyurisin discovered that Laurel Ridge has several local authors on staff or connected with the school, including Professor Ann Simpson and her husband, Rob, who is retired from the college.
Other authors he said are associated with Laurel Ridge are retired professor Morgan Scott Phenix, Toms Brook Mayor and adjunct professor Lisa Currie, part-time employee Cherie Smith and Grants Manager Melissa DeDomenico-Payne.
Filling out the list of authors are Ellen Murphy, Kerry Crawford, Rich Follett, Martha (M.K.B) Graham, Lisa and Susie Currie and Wilburn, Steve Melester, Kristi Strong, A.K. Lang, Lauren Roberts, Emilee Moore, Sara Jones, Jeremy Rodgers, Marie Andrews, Dr. Eugene D. Betit, Robin Young, Linda Jenkins, Linda Murtadha, Rebecca Lillis, Laura Cascada, William Gray, Hina Ansari, Til Turner, John Berry, Bruce Peters, TJ O’Connor, Wayde Byard, Jason Queen, James Cole, Eric Burstock, Sarah Kohrs, Gayle Krause, Randina Sheldon, James Davison, Candace Meredith, Margaret Marangione, Pam Webber, D. Krauss, Bryan Lienesch, Alicia Cahalane Lewis, Coe Sherrard, Cara Achterberg, Wayne David Hubbard and Elizabeth Cottrell.
“This is really exciting for Laurel Ridge,” Ann Simpson said in the news release. “It’s important to let the community know that there are local writers in the area. And, it’s an important way for Laurel Ridge to reach out to our community to provide this type of service for the arts because writing really is a type of art.”
The books for sale at the fair include genres like historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s literature, fantasy, thrillers, nature, photography and more.
Organizers will also serve hot chocolate and have Christmas music playing, Gyurisin said.
It’s a great chance to engage with authors and get some holiday shopping done, he said.
With any luck, he said, this will also become a yearly holiday tradition.
“If you ask me now, yes, the answer is yes,” Gyurisin said. “[It’s] a great way to support our local authors.
Learn more about the book fair at laurelridge.edu/laurel-ridge-holiday-book-fair.