Letter: Lewes History Book Festival says thanks

October 9, 2018

The History Book Festival is the only book festival in the nation devoted exclusively to history - a perfect match with Lewes’s rich historical heritage. The festival is a nonprofit organization formed through the Greater Lewes Foundation and began in 2017. This year’s festival offered more than 20 notable authors of current nonfiction and fiction in several venues in Lewes. The wide selection of topics was designed to appeal to history buffs and readers ranging from the most serious to the more casual. Over 1,800 participants enjoyed meeting their favorite authors and finding new ones. 

Our success is the result of a group effort. Hence, we have much for which to be grateful. We extend our thanks to everyone who made this year’s festival come alive, particularly our 23 authors, who are the very heart of the event.

Without our Presenting Sponsors, there would be no History Book Festival. We are deeply grateful to Delaware Humanities for believing in us from the beginning, and funding the festival so generously. iHeart Media has been a sponsor for the past two years, and has been instrumental in getting the word out. Many thanks to these valued partners.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty and the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group underwrote our keynote address featuring Blanche Wiesen Cook, the celebrated biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt, and author of three acclaimed volumes about her life, and Paul Sparrow, director of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. We thank them for making this special keynote possible, and for their sponsorship of the festival from its inception.

Venue Sponsors included The Inn at Canal Square, Susan Cohen and Ron Collins, Browseabout Books, biblion, Susan and Matthew Kehoe, Nancy Staisey and Stan Divorski, the Cape Gazette, and Lewes Public Library. Thanks so much to all for underwriting the logistics for this event. A special thanks to the Cape Gazette for publishing stories in the lead-up to this event (including this long letter) and for helping us produce and distribute our festival program. And a special call out to the amazing Browseabout Books of Rehoboth Beach for serving as the festival’s official bookseller. We could not do this without them. The invaluable help of the fine folks at Lewes Public Library is greatly appreciated. From the beginning, their support proved vital to our success.      

This year, the History Book Festival started a new tradition, called a Spirited Discussion. We closed the festival with a lively get-together, complete with food, drink and conversation, sponsored by Tom and Libby Owen, and Harry and Mary Gatanas. We are very grateful to our other Spirited Discussion Sponsors, Community Matters Foundation (Jimmy’s Grille Catering), Dogfish Head and Nassau Valley Vineyards, for enabling us to invite participants and authors to get together in this casual way to cap off another great event. 

Our Platinum Sponsors included the following wonderful people and organizations: Big Red Truck Digital, Stan and Terry Chincheck, Delaware Heritage Commission, Delmarva Public Radio, Deny Howeth Design, Sally Mott Freeman and John Freeman, Harper Collins Publishers, Harvard Business Services Inc., Jen Mason and Clare Hancock, Austin Okie, Penguin Putnam Publishers, Darica Ward and Jenny Donohue, and Sussex County Council. We thank all of you for your valued support, and we thank all of our many other donors. Every gift was vital to the History Book Festival’s success.

This event would be impossible without volunteers. We are grateful to: everyone who introduced or interviewed authors; our board and committee members who worked year-round to organize and promote the event; our home hosts who showed our authors true small-town hospitality; the masters of ceremonies who facilitated the author presentations all day; our author escorts who ensured that our presenters had a wonderful experience of the Delaware beaches; and our site attendants who made the festival welcoming for our audiences. Over 100 individuals contributed their time and talent. Thank you.

On behalf of our board of directors, we thank our community for attending and supporting the festival. You, our audience, is why we do this.
We appreciate your engagement, enthusiasm and insights. Most of the events were standing room only (prompting us to explore venue expansion for next year), and you supported our authors’ work by purchasing over 1,000 of their books. Thank you! 

Please mark your calendars for the 2019 History Book Festival: Sept. 27-28, 2019. See you then!  

Ron Collins and Jen Mason
History Book Festival co-founders


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