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Great Valley Bookfest Saturday
Attendees browse the Authors’ Alley at a previous Great Valley Bookfest. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Want a good read?

Then how about this inspiring story: A community comes together to celebrate reading and inspire young people to pick up books by making it fun to do.

That’s the plot line for the Great Valley Bookfest presenting its ninth chapter on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley anchored by Bass Pro Shops.

More than 80 authors will be at the free event to discuss their books as well as share the power of reading and writing. While they will be offering their books for sale, the Great Valley Bookfest is more than just a chance to meet and greet authors.

It is designed to inspire young and old to read and even author books.

Things get started with a 10 a.m. kids’ parade where youngsters are encouraged to come decked in costumes and join mascots, favorite characters, and authors to follow the Black Out Band to make their way around the Bookfest venue at the 120 Bypass and Union Road. The parade will end at the children’s pavilion where kids will get a chance to participate in programs with various authors of children’s books.

There will also be free activities for youngsters including a kids’ zone courtesy of New Life Church complete with bounce houses and more

Dozens of author presentations will take place. There even will be workshops for aspiring authors who want to learn about the ins and outs of getting a book published.

The Friends of the Manteca Library have amassed thousands of gently used books that can be purchased typically for a quarter. There will be food vendors, most on trucks, including Kona Ice, Black Dragon Beverage Co., Dazzle Dogs, Dos Brothers Tacos, The Rock Oven Pizza, Smokin’ Potagee, Dippin’ Dots, Red Robin, Snowie Shaved Ice, and Royal T Café.

There is also a scavenger hunt.

And of course authors will have their books on sale as well as always being ready to chat about their work and writing in general one-on-one.

Last year, more than 7,000 people attended the six-hour event.

The Bookfest not only speaks volumes about the commitment of organizers and participants to reading and literacy but it underscores the valley’s tremendous resources and commitment to elevate lives through the power of reading.

Some may read the previous paragraph and sneer. You know the spiel. The Northern San Joaquin Valley is supposedly as place absent of culture and literacy because its roots are firmly planted in agriculture. Fans of William Stonehill Saroyan will disagree. The prolific Fresno author who gave us “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” is just one of numerous authors inspired by the San Joaquin Valley including Manteca High graduate William Kent Krueger who has had several books on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

And if anyone disses those who toil on farms and factories of agriculturally rich valleys as being dolts, let’s not forget John Steinbeck who hailed from Salinas and spent much of his life in the Northern California including a stint working in the Spreckels Sugar refinery that once dominated the Manteca skyline.

Still when Manteca builder Toni Raymus returned from a visit to Decatur where she came across a bookfest that covered virtually the entire downtown of that Georgia community and started circulating the idea of staging a bookfest in Manteca, the nearly universal response was, “what, a bookfest in Manteca?” with more than a few silently wondering whether she was joking.

Her response: Why not?

There is little doubt much of the San Joaquin Valley has its challenges.

But that said, the valley is not a desert when it comes to literature or culture. 

In fact you could argue that the Northern San Joaquin Valley is the perfect setting for not just a Bookfest but to strengthen the written word.

The Bookfest site is 30 minutes from Livermore Lab and an hour from the Silicon Valley that is populated with some of the world’s greatest tech minds with many of their collaborating colleagues residing this side of the Altamont Pass. It is at the epicenter of a million people within a 30-mile radius who labor in a wide array of professions and can find inspiration in some of the most diverse landscape and communities of people in the world. If the United States is the melting pot, and California the golden ingredient then the Northern San Joaquin Valley is where you will find the biggest nugget. It’s not refined per se but it is still gold.

The Great Valley Bookfest in a sense is also a way to remind us that not only does the Northern San Joaquin Valley have a lot to offer but that the written world is alive and kicking here.

Mark your calendar for this Saturday and drop by the Bookfest. Search for specks of gold along Author’s Alley and celebrate reading.

It’ll give you a chance to understand what is making Manteca a bestseller to the people who elect to move here every year.

There is a wealth of talented people living here and even more people committed to making lives better.

The Bookfest would be impossible to stage if that wasn’t the case.

For more information on the Great Valley Bookfest go to

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email