By Heidi Simmons
Congratulations to all the organizers, workers and supporters of the Third Annual Rancho Mirage Writers Festival for delivering an excellent event.
Enough cannot be said about how much the festival is loved and adored by CV readers. I am delighted to use my column to sincerely speak for the majority of those who attended: “We are grateful for the time and energy you gave to such a high-end, thoughtful program. Thank you!”
Over three days, 1,000 readers enjoyed moving from venue to venue listening and interacting with 40 authors and fellow literary fans. The energy was up-beat and positive. The vibe, joyful. Even at its most crowded, happy attendees moved about with ease.
During lunchtime, standing in line or sitting in anticipation of an event, wonderful conversations ensued. Book lovers are quick to talk about what they have read and their favorites. They crave to engage. When they discover you have read the same book, there is a delightful repartee.
The award winning and beautiful Rancho Mirage Library setting makes the event familiar and personal. The wonderful librarians, who do so much year-round to serve the community, are present at the festival. They continue to make their patrons experience as perfect as possible.
Attendees all wear lanyards with his or her name professionally printed, which adds to the intimacy and encourages friendliness. The simple act of printing each attendee’s name helps make everyone feel special.
The hardest part about any festival setting is scheduling the day. During the RMWF, three venues ran simultaneously, every hour, from the start of the day, which began at 9:00 am, and concluded at 3:30.
The evening program is set at one venue and contains two amazing events. Everyone is together on the same page. It’s nice to relax in the fantastic Helene Galen Auditorium and enjoy engaging speakers.
Each of the venues I attended was rewarding, satisfying and immensely entertaining. I was able to arrange my schedule where I felt I really got a terrific sampling of authors. Would I like to have seen more? Well, of course. But I’m not sure I would have had the stamina. Too much intellectual stimulation, as exhilarating as it is, can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Whoever has the headache of working out the schedule, designing and combining programs so the authors are spread out and available throughout the fest, deserves a special debt of gratitude (and probably a bottle of aspirin and added vacation time.)
This year RMWF added a program called “Short Talks.” This event combined two authors who split the hour. This worked out great. At first, I thought it would not be enough time, but in fact, there was ample time for the authors to share their work and even take questions.
The authors I chatted with commented on how they too appreciate the fine qualities of the RMWF. They like being in Rancho Mirage, especially those who live on the east coast, and appreciate the intelligence and passion of the attending readership. They consider Rancho Mirage an excellent host.
Although the festival leans more toward nonfiction, it still features fiction authors as well. The festival even included poetry this year, which pulled in a nice sized crowd. Every bit of the program is thoughtfully planned.
Most of the authors are not only critically acclaimed, but have written multiple books. Many of the authors come from journalism backgrounds, which makes them especially attuned to contemporary global issues. The discussions are as good as anything on Meet The Press or C-SPAN’s Book TV.
Although this festival is a reader’s paradise, the geo-political conversations make it equally enjoyable to nonreaders as well.
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival is so special and so much fun, I wanted to stop everyone wearing a green lanyard — which represents the Angels who donate 70 percent of the funds necessary to make the festival possible — a hug and kiss. Instead, every time I passed an angel, I whispered “Thank you.” Yep, that was me and I was talking to you.
Every week when I write my “Book Review” column, I wonder if there are book lovers out there. This event assures me there are indeed readers, who, like me, love books and admire those who write them. Kudos MMXVI RMWF for a job well-done! I can hardly wait until next year.