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Tens of thousands expected to attend as Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicks off

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest event of its kind in the country.

The 23rd annual festival, which celebrates reading and storytelling, got underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at the USC campus near downtown L.A. Authors participating in this year’s event include Junot Díaz, Reza Aslan, Maria Shriver and Leslie Odom Jr.

In addition to the author panels, there are hundreds of booths showcasing the things that make L.A. a great literary city. Campus eateries are open, and food trucks parked at four locations.

There is also music, cooking demonstrations and other activities.

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By 10 a.m., crowds already were starting to filter onto the campus under a clear sky, grabbing snacks before seeking out their favorite authors.

Amy Novak, her husband and 13-year-old daughter bought bowls of beans and rice and beignets before heading off to hear Joyce Carol Oates, who was scheduled to speak at Bovard Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. The family came early to secure parking.

“I think it’s going to be really busy this year,” she said. “There’s not usually this much traffic this early in the morning.”

More than 150,000 people attended last year’s event.

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Novak, an Orange County resident, has been coming to the festival off and on for 10 years.

“We’re big readers, so we love seeing all the booksellers and what they have on sale,” Novak said. “But we also love the opportunity to hear the writers come and talk about their latest books and hear them talk with other writers.”

Children ran around as their parents grabbed maps to help navigate the festival. Dozens of students from Maxson Elementary School were out in force on a field trip, their third year at the event.

“They’re able to get to know some of the authors and get signatures,” said Maria Chairez, a community liaison for the El Monte school. Students also get a free book for coming out on the field trip.

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By 10:30 a.m., a line of more than two dozen snaked its way around the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, waiting to hear Jorge Ramos, the Spanish-language news anchor for Univision who has reported for years on the hotly debated issue of illegal immigration.

Many waiting in line brought copies of Ramos’ book “Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era” and others a Time magazine copy with his face on the cover.

Carolina Gamero, 28, has been a volunteer with Libros Schmibros, a lending library in Boyle Heights, for about six months. Ramos was scheduled to be part of a conversation with David Kipen, who founded the library.

“I’m a fan of Jorge Ramos,” said Gamero, whose parents are immigrants from Peru. “I think his reporting brings a lot of gravity and understanding to our times, especially for what we’re facing right now, like attacks to immigrant communities. I’d love to hear more about his take on where we are politically.”

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The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. General admission is free; but advance tickets to events have a $2 processing fee. To get tickets, visit events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/.

brittny.mejia@latimes.com


UPDATES:

11:30 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from festivalgoers waiting to hear Jorge Ramos speak.

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This article was originally posted at 10:35 a.m.


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