By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Reunion opportunity for some of the visitors
Mary Gomes Del Pino, right, and New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger go down memory lane as they peruse the pages of their Manteca High 1969 Yearbook. Del Pino was one of several people who went to the Authors Alley of the Great Valley Bookfest Saturday at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley to catch up with Kent Krueger who is now an internationally known author. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger said the Great Valley Bookfest, which had its maiden launch Saturday, will outgrow itself in two to three years.

The 1969 Manteca High graduate, one of 30-plus authors who took part in the well attended daylong extravaganza at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, made that prediction as he and the other participants in the Authors’ Alley wrapped up for the day, feeling upbeat and generally happy about how their day turned out.

The Authors’ Alley, one of the day’s many offerings that included author presentations, book signings, culinary presentations, a used-book sale by the Friends of the Library, was located on the side of the main water feature in front of the Bass Pro Shops. It was the same picturesque setting for many of the other featured booths that attracted plenty of traffic. The rest of the booth attractions were located in the spacious area surrounded by the AMC Theater and restaurants such as Red Robbin, Subway and Matsu Sushi.

The gathering of authors provided a unique and rare opportunity for bookworms to meet the authors in person and engage them in a conversation about their books and their life as a writer, and to get their autographs as a bonus. Barnes and Noble bookstore made copies of the authors’ books handy by setting up a booth next to the Authors’ Alley. Not surprisingly, Manteca’s very own Kent Krueger was among the most sought-after personalities with several classmates and former teachers at Manteca High stopping by to rehash old times and to browse over his books that he had on display. Former classmate Mary Del Pino, formerly Mary Gomes, even brought her copy of their class yearbook, “in case she doesn’t remember me,” she said.

The former classmates spent a few minutes perusing their yearbook, with Del Pino updating the award-winning author on the latest about some of their fellow graduates of their Buffalo Class of 1969.

Not all of those who were there already had books already printed – either self-published or by a publishing company. Gary Dei Rossi, deputy superintendent of Student Services at the San Joaquin County Office of Education, for example, was there to get the word out about his newest book, San Joaquin County A to Z co-written by Sue de Polo. Flyers were made available to those who wanted to order copies of the book in advance. Available “soon,” San Joaquin County A-Z “is an ABC book about San Joaquin County. It is for people of all ages. It will help young children learn alphabet letters and sounds and older children and adults learn about the geography, environment, and history of our fascinating county,” according to the blurb on the flyer.

Kerry Harris, the founder and original owner of the former Main Street Café & Catering in Manteca, along with siblings John Mangelos who is the owner of The Barnwood restaurant in Ripon, and Ella Mangelos-Velthoen brought to the event their culinary books which extol their rich Greek heritage. The Riponites, both born and raised in the town that touts itself as the Almond Capital of the World, published the “Greek Gourmets” cookbooks. Harris’ book offering was “Something for Everyone,” a tome that she put together when people started constantly requesting for her recipes. The book is a compendium of “traditional family recipes, café recipes, and new recipes developed in her journey toward healthful eating.” Harris also writes a food blog called “The Devoted Cook.”

Many of those featured in the Authors’ Alley, as well as those who manned the Barnes & Noble bookstore said they were all looking forward to taking part in next year’s second annual Great Valley Bookfest.

“I hope we’ll get invited again,” said one of the Barnes & Noble workers.