There is something quite powerful about a community coming together to celebrate the sense of wonder that books seldom fail to curate within us. Since its inception in 2010 by Mayor Jud Ashman, the Gaithersburg Book Festival, which took place on May 21st this year, has set the stage for this wonderment to grow. It is a nationwide celebration of all forms of written word, literary-inspired conversation, and the freedom to speak from the heart. Despite its small town as its host, the Gaithersburg Book Festival has quickly grown to become one of the nation’s top literary events, expanding both its audience and award-winning authors who attend each year.
CHAPTER 1: Setting the Stage, Meeting the Characters
On the night of Friday, May 20th, 2022, award-winning and best-selling authors, city council members, congressman, and donors and sponsors from across the nation gathered in a room — finally together again in-person after two years of virtual events — for the 2022 Gaithersburg Book Festival VIP Authors’ Reception.
The room came alive as the night moved forward, filling with chatter and laughter amongst strangers simply connected by the thread of books and creativity. After authors, sponsors, and council members made their rounds through the room and got acquainted, Mayor Jud Ashman took to the podium to welcome those who traveled near and far to attend the book festival of his creation and heart. Mayor Ashman delivered an incredibly passionate, personable — which is one of his many positive attributes as a mayor and leader — and comedic speech about the sweltering heat that Maryland weather decided to inaugurate that weekend, the authors who were in attendance, the hardships of the pandemic and the triumphs they accomplished despite it, and even threw in a quote from The Office, which received a chuckle from the room. He ended his speech in holding a toast to honor the continuation and impressive growth of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.
As the night went on, a photographer snapped posed and in action photos of the attendees, drinking spirits and indulging in hors d’oeuvres together. Mayor Ashman made a point to meet and spend time speaking with each person in the room. There was never a dull or awkward moment, as the mayor and his team made sure to create a fully inclusive and welcoming environment for each of their guests.
CHAPTER 2: The Main Event
After a festive night celebrating the arrival of the book festival, the day of the event dawned at 9:30am when the first shuttle delivered authors from their hotel to the event located in Bohrer Park just outside the Gaithersburg High School. The grounds bustled with activity, a congregation for all ages, embellished with merchandise, book, and organization tents for guests to peruse in between author panels. The Activity Center not only became an air-conditioned safe haven from the heat but also a hub for book lovers to purchase books from Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore located in DC and a partner of the event, and meet their lifelong or newly discovered favorite authors after their panels.
CHAPTER 3: Thoughts and Revelations
The atmosphere of the Gaithersburg Book Festival was unparalleled. Not only was it warm because of the unprecedented heat, but it was welcoming and open to all walks of life, allowing for viewpoints to be shared without hesitation or judgement. Each of the authors’ panels discussed highly intellectual, real-world concerns and issues that were passionately written into the pages of every book, whether subtle or blatant.
It was an incomparably positive environment where people of all ages could gather to cherish their love for books without worry. There are not many places where all city officials passionately attend and fully immerse themselves in the experience right alongside everyone else. This feat was no doubt accomplished, in part, by Mayor Ashman and his team, who spent countless hours forging one of the best, city-wide events people will ever encounter.
CHAPTER 4: Falling Action
At The Carnegie, we are thrilled to join such a special, highly involved city that champions the impact that literature has on a society. Our alignment in thoughts and ideals with the Gaithersburg Book Festival motivated us to strike a partnership with them, in which we will not only become a sponsor but also work together to host several “afterglow” GBF events at our Discovery Center in Downtown Crown, which opens in June of 2022.
Such events will include inviting authors to return to Gaithersburg for intimate signings and discussions, literary-inspired events like poetry and high tea evenings, children’s story-times, and more. The ideas are certainly endless, especially with a city as passionate about literature as Gaithersburg, and we are looking forward to exploring all of the possibilities as we open our Discovery Center doors soon.
For more information, visit our Discovery Center at 129 Ellington Blvd at Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg, Maryland.