Inland Empire Latino Book and Family Festival
On Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Inland Empire Latino Book and Family Festival in San Bernardino, CA. LBFF is an annual event, but this was the first time it was held at the University in San Bernardino. It was also the first time I ever attended or participated in a Latino book festival. I was told the event had been growing each year and needed a larger space. At one point I heard that 6,000 people attended.
Upon arrival I checked in to get my author’s badge and was shown the space I could use to display my book. It was a space shared by other “Award Winner Authors” of the International Latino Book Awards, part of Latino Literacy Now. I was at this book festival because the Portuguese version of Flowing with the Go, Indo com o Fluxo, won an award in the Non-fiction Books in Portuguese category. It was a small category in comparison to the number of non-Portuguese books. Most of the books were written in Spanish, were translated into or from Spanish to English, were written by authors of Latino heritage or were about topics related to Latino culture.
The event was held on May 3rd; close enough to May 5th to be publicized as having a Cinco de Mayo flair. Billed also as a family festival there were booths for kids – face painting, crafts and balloons. The center stage, surrounded by the author booths and booths of Latino art, was active all day with cultural dancers and musicians as well as children receiving awards for art, poetry and story entries they had written. One of the reasons I chose to attend the LBFF was that I had the opportunity to sit on a panel. I joined two other women speaking on The Writing Process. It wasn’t standing room only by any means, but it was a nice addition to being at the festival. My two favorite moments were first when the moderator asked each of us to share how our Latina heritage played a role in the creation of our books – I’m not a Latina, and I can’t speak Spanish OR Portuguese, so I played that one off with humor, and secondly when the moderator and an audience member got in a disagreement about “labeling”. The audience member did not like the term Latino, or Hispanic, but preferred Chicano. He quite confidently explained why despite eye-rolling from the moderator who himself had an impressive resume and his own opinion on the topic. (The audience member went so far as to declare that the event should be called the Chicano Book and Family Festival.) Not having any label to defend, I found the confrontation entertaining and educational.
I actually had a third favorite moment and that was having two of my best southern California girlfriends at the event to support and heckle me. They had never been to a book festival before, but that didn’t stop them from posing as my entourage so they could get the free food in the author’s lounge. I’m not sure the day was enough to have them become book festival groupies, but I loved that they were there and that we could post-function in Temecula (which is wine country in case you don’t know the place).