Authors Fest transforms to four-day event

The Huntington Beach Library will be holding its 25th Authors Festival, but this year's event will include the newly-created Surf City Kids Book Fest to keep the community's youth interested in reading.

Authors Festival co-chairs Sue Welfringer and Gail Page said they are excited to see this nearly three-decade-old event expand and draw in a younger audience. Children from second to eighth grade submitted writings on whatever subject they chose — creativity being the goal.

One child titled his piece "The Fart that Ate Detroit," Welfringer said.

The festivities will begin on Jan. 28 at Huntington Beach Library and conclude on Jan. 31.

Book festival events will include creative writing workshops, nonfiction writing, pajama parties, pop-up book classes and guest author readings. Workshops cost $5 each.

On Jan. 31 there will be book signings at the library at 2:30 p.m. and the award ceremony will start at 3:45 p.m.

The Authors Festival, where winners of the writing and illustration contest receive awards, was typically held on a Tuesday afternoon, but the two decided to move the award ceremony to a Thursday and stretch out the event over four days.

"We wanted more than just the winners of our contest to come to the library that day," Welfringer said.

This year's contest began in September 2012 and entries are currently being judged for awards.

The event will now include various writing workshops, nonfiction writing discussions and pajama story time.

Stacia Deutsch, an Orange County resident who wrote "Batman: Dark Knight Legend" and "Mean Ghouls," will be hosting a workshop on creative writing.

As an added bonus, the festival will give away books every 15 minutes for those who attend the Authors Festival reception.

"We know the kids get excited about it, but what more can we do?" Welfringer said about getting children even more excited for the festival.

Not only do the two co-chairs want more people to attend, but to also bring back the joy of reading and writing.

"Schools are paranoid about testing and fewer schools have participated [in this event] in the past," Page said. "We're trying to get folks excited and bring them back."

Welfringer added that schools focus too much on writing essays and feel that children lose their creativity during in the process.

"We like the way the contest works because it's not about 'Why do you like the library?' with a concluding statement," she said. "You have to really [be creative] and it's so much fun."

Page had some concerns about appealing to the older children, but is happy to see the diversity of workshops offered at this year's event.

"The older kids are often forgotten…and the seventh and eighth graders feel a little out of it if you're teaching at a third-grade level," Page said.

The Employees Community Fund of Boeing California has been long-time sponsors of the event, donating another $5,000 this year —covering most of the expenses.

The group has donated an estimated $39,000 since 2002, Page said.

Welfringer never had any trouble when it came to attendance, but she would like to reach out to more members of the community.

"We sold out the last two weeks before the event happened," she said about last year's event. "We couldn't even accommodate the waiting list. And kids who showed up and planned to leave early asked to stay. Once they get into doing it, they have a really fun time."

Twitter: @acocarpio

If You Go

What: Authors Festival and Surf City Kids Book Fest

When: Jan. 28 to Jan. 31

Where: Huntington Beach Library

Cost: Free; workshops $5

Info: Dawne Knobbe, or or visit

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