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After 35 years, Kentucky Book Fair leaving Frankfort for move to Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena

The Kentucky Book Fair, which draws thousands each November, is moving to Lexington because of the pending demolition of the Frankfort Convention Center.

Kentucky Humanities Project Manager Brooke Raby told The (Frankfort) State Journal that there was no alternative site in Frankfort to host the event.

The fair, which former State Journal Editor Carl West founded in 1981, has historically been at the beginning of November but will take place Nov. 17 and 18 in several locations of Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena.

The fair attracts an average of 3,500 readers and 170 local and national authors.

Raby said it was disappointment to move the event from Frankfort and that the city could be considered in the future if a suitable location can be found.

The book fair was previously operated by a non-profit independent board of volunteers, but it is now operated by the nonprofit Kentucky Humanities (formerly Kentucky Humanities Council), in partnership with the Kentucky Book Fair board.

Well known Frankfort photographer Gene Burch has sold at least seven books of his photography over the years at the fair.

“That’s a bad deal for us. I really hate that the convention center has to go. It’s going to be a huge economic impact on Frankfort,” Burch said. “From our point of view, if we had a book coming out, it would be devastating blow to us not being in Frankfort. All of these books that we’ve done over the years have done well because we were here in Frankfort and our clientele that like our books could get to us easily. It would be blow. How do you guess how much?”

Local author Ray Peden had successful sales of his two books, “One Tenth of the Law,” and “Prime Cut,” at last year’s book fair. He remains hopeful.

“Nobody likes messing with tradition. The Kentucky Book Fair’s move to Lexington may have some impact on Frankfort’s economy, but I am hopeful, fingers crossed, it will not affect the public’s desire to connect with a couple hundred authors, many from Kentucky,” Peden said. “Maybe we authors will find a new outlet for our ‘great works.’ We’ll see. The proof is in the pudding.”

West founded the Kentucky Book Fair in 1981. He covered the White House and Pentagon in Washington for Scripps Howard News Service, which included coverage of President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. He brought the idea of the book fair with him to Frankfort from Washington, where the National Press Club had a book fair.

The Kentucky book fair eventually outgrew the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives building, Kentucky State University and was moved to the Frankfort Convention Center.

From Kentucky Today

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