The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival last weekend was a success because of the efforts of dozens of volunteers who welcomed the authors with grace and hospitality. Volunteer drivers cleaned their cars and festival managers put on party dresses and clean shirts to ensure that the authors experienced the casual and gracious hospitality of the Vineyard. Chairs were moved, introductions made, everyone felt welcomed and included. The hosts who opened their homes to the authors could not have been more accommodating, providing cars, directions, meals and Island tours. The parking attendants donned vests and defended parking lots against all interlopers. Thanks to Julie Flanders, the Yard, Beetlebung Farm, Chilmark Church, and the town of Chilmark for providing space.

Due to the generosity of our sponsors, the festival remains free. They are the true friends of the festival and the heroes that make our model work. Other generous support included first and foremost the Vineyard Gazette. Their staff did an outstanding job in preparing the book festival supplement. They provided support on numerous levels and sponsored our stellar Opening Event with Chelsea Handler and Seth Meyers. WBUR is our radio partner, providing moderators and announcements. Bunch of Grapes did endless work on both the talent side and also in ordering and organizing thousands of books.

Friends and family cooked and shopped for the author dinner and to host the author reception. Extra appreciation goes to Sylvia Cohn for opening up her beautiful home to welcome the authors.

To our delight, the town of Chilmark gave us permission to hold the festival for both Saturday and Sunday in Chilmark. We have worked hard to live up to the selectmen’s expectations. And we were so lucky that we had Annie Treitman organizing the parking plan.

Our friends at Island Source generously donated water to ensure that everyone was well hydrated and we could eliminate disposable water bottles. We were greatly helped by grants from the Cape Cod Five Charitable Foundation, Martha’s Vineyard Bank, and Mass Cultural Council. Cape Air helped on the transport side. Cronig’s Market and Stina Sayre Design made sure that we had lovely swag to sell. Vineyard Vines, the Vineyard Gazette, Rosewater, Magnetic North, Grey Barn, MV Sea Salt, Flat Point Farm, artist Linda London Thompson, Island Glassworks, Morrice Florist, Tea Lane Farm and Chilmark Tavern contributed to gifts for authors and hosts.

We would have been shabby and unprofessional without the design talent and creativity of the fabulous Melissa Patterson/About SignsMV. Our sound team of MV Audio made sure everyone had a good experience; MV Productions ensured that each event was properly recorded. Big Sky Tents was endlessly patient with our changing and growing needs.

Valerie Rosenberg did everything, attending to every detail and more; Wendee Wolfson managed on Island transportation and more, and Christine Skidmore managed author travel and more. I cannot thank them enough. The Chilmark Community Center and CTAC staff provided the underpinnings of the festival structure and we owe them special thanks. Kate Treitman Brown kept our social media buzzing; Chaerin Ahn updated the website; Tracey Braun wrote author bios; Brenda Horrigan drafted press releases, and Ginny Morris prepared the gift bags. Our interns, Kate Dario and Emma Goldberg, ran from one end of the Island to the other, doing whatever was needed.

The book festival advisory board is a group of literary and media giants. They provided advice in author selection, planning, problem solving and identifying moderators. Particular thanks go to Steve Fischer, Dawn Davis, George Gibson, Buck Goldstein, Pat Sullivan, Michele Norris, Laurie David and Joan Nathan.

The festival featured 35 acclaimed authors from across the country and the Island. Individually, they were smart, insightful and clever, and we all were better for hearing them. Together, they created a realistic understanding of where we are today, how we got here, and a hopeful message about the future. They left us with new insights, concern but not despair and the motivation to focus and engage. We are grateful that they chose to participate in this eighth festival.

There were over 40 moderators, introducers and interviewers. Diverse in age and experience, in backgrounds and professions, they made the festival cohesive with intellectual grounding and with their preparation, skill and experience.

To the Island we love, we are grateful to your support of the event — for getting it, for spending your weekend with us. We hope you found it an uplifting opportunity to gain new understanding, to discover new authors, and for new and renewed connections and friendships.

Suellen Lazarus


The writer is director/founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival.