On Saturday morning, March 15, I arrived at the University of Arizona campus an hour before the first program, parked on the top level of the already almost-full Stadium parking garage, slung my backpack over my shoulder and meandered through the tents being set up, on my way to the Student Union. Volunteers in their bright blue shirts were perky and offering help. Booksellers and publishers were waylaying passersby with free bookmarks and pencils. Early morning enthusiasm reigned.
My backpack contained the print out of the programs I most wanted to see, my camera with extra batteries, a bottle of water, a fold-up hat for when the sun grew hotter, my billfold in case I decided to buy something, pens and business cards. It also harbored the half of my bagel sandwich that I had not yet finished, and I carried my Zen tea from Starbucks.
You can tell the veterans of the book festival by what they carry. They’re ready for a long day. Really smart ones have fold up chairs for sitting in the long lines before popular events. Some carry copies of books they want to get signed.