What better way to show off extensive renovations at the historic Boonton Holmes Library than to host the city’s first-ever book festival?
After many interior and exterior improvements were completed, the Boonton Main Street non-profit organized a groundbreaking Friday for a new backyard courtyard with a stage for intimate outdoor performances and events.
The Boonton Books and Beyond Festival welcomes more than 30 authors and presenters to the library, the Boonton Coffee Company, and the Boonton Elks Lodge on November 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With support from Boonton Mayor Richard Corcoran, the event was conceived “as a celebration of New Jersey’s very own homegrown artists and authors, whether native to or based in the Garden State.”
“We’re thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response from so many of the state’s outstanding writers,” said Tracy Pryer, Boonton’s recreation director and festival president. “The events will all take place in person, of course with the necessary COVID precautions. So it’s a great opportunity for book lovers to meet and interact with authors.”
The participants represent a wide variety of genres, including literary fiction, mystery, children’s picture books, TV scripts, comic books and more.
The festival provides a homecoming opportunity for Boonton Township native Gina Ippolito, who recently completed a two-year stint as a screenwriter for the CBS sitcom ‘The Unicorn’.
“I think it’s really cool that Boonton and Boonton Township and the surrounding areas have produced so many prolific writers with varied resumes,” said Ippolito, who also wrote for the “Murphy Brown” reboot. “I’m excited to hear them all speak. I think the whole city should be too.’
Ippolito recalls spending time at the Holmes Library as a child when her mother was studying there for a graduate degree.
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“She would just park me in the children’s section and I would devour the books until we left,” Ippolito said. “It was one of my favorite places. I still have some of the free bookmarks they gave out.”
Also featured will be former Daily Record journalist Lorraina Ash, editor of the award-winning book “Corona City: One Anthology’s Remarkable Journey”. Four contributing writers will join her for a discussion of the book, which collects first-person stories and photography that follow life during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the New York-New Jersey area.
Festival events are free. Signed books by the presenters are for sale.
“The festival program features more than 25 presentations in various locations throughout the day,” says library director Lotte Newlin. “So there is something for everyone at any time. The public should definitely make plans to attend one day.”
Steven Kampschmidt, chairman of Boonton Main Street, said he hopes the festival will support the city’s restaurants, some of which will have a special fixed-price lunch menu for the day.
“It’s great to have the participation of our fine dining establishments,” he said. “It’s another excellent reason to visit Boonton on November 13.”
Presenters and visitors will see that extensive renovations have already been completed at the library, including a bright new exterior blue color chosen to be appropriate for the Victorian era when the library was erected at the top of Main Street and the corner of Boonton avenue.
James Holmes donated the former residence in 1870 to be used as a library. The library was given a makeover in 2010 after being handed over to the city.
More recently, a grant of $221,360 in 2020 from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund helped fund partial exterior restoration of the south, east, and west facades, including repairs to the siding and cladding, restoration of timber windows, and Paint.
Visit the festival website at www.boontonbooks.org for more information.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, subscribe today or activate your digital account.