A new local festival celebrates both literature and little insects.
By Jenny Hoff, photos courtesy of authors and the Bee Cave Public Library
A festival that combines literature with the love of nature is coming to the Austin area. The Books and Bees Festival at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave will delight those in attendance. Lovers of great novels, the Hill Country, bee education and history buffs; everyone can enjoy a varied lineup of events, crafts and entertainment with bestselling authors, photographers, a beekeeper and even a singing zoologist. Sponsored by the City of Bee Cave and the Bee Cave Public library, the event is free to public.
Bee Cave Public Library Director Barbara Hathaway says the city’s inaugural literary festival will celebrate the slew of local bestselling and award-winning authors in the Austin area. “We have such talented authors, especially female, right at our doorstep,” says Hathaway. “And this year, many of their newest novels are set in Austin and the Texas area. Fans are going to love diving into these stories involving places they know and have seen.”
Celebrating Strong Women
Many books featured at the festival focus on strong women. Bestselling author Sarah Bird’s newest release, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, takes place in Galveston during the Great Depression. It’s told through the voice of one woman and as she recounts her struggle to rebuild from the ashes. Delightful vaudeville dance scenes throughout the book show how joy and celebration can happen even in the hardest of times.
Bestselling author Amanda Eyre Ward, whose last book, The Jetsetters, was chosen as Reese’s Book of the Month, will read from her latest mystery, The Lifeguards. The story is set in Austin’s Barton Creek neighborhood. Fans of Little Fires Everywhere will love this mystery about the secrets found in seemingly safe and sleepy neighborhoods. Enjoy visiting all the city’s famous haunts while unraveling a mystery that involves three best friends as they confront the truth.
Young adult author Laekan Zea Kemp tackles coming-of-age as a young woman in her second novel, Heartbreak Symphony. This award-winning novelist uses her own life growing up in West Texas and her Mexican background as influences in her writing. Her work “celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity and joy while exploring the themes of identity and mental health.”
New moms looking to take care of their mental health can participate in a self-love exercise with local international curve model Amanda Tice. Tice will also sign copies of her book The New Mom Code.
“It’s time we stop sugarcoating the motherhood experience by pretending we are okay at every moment,” she says. “The New Mom Code confronts the taboo topics no one will talk about and includes some healing practices we can add to our daily routines to keep our heads in the right space as we embark on this new journey.”
The Importance of the Books and the Bees
Outside on the Hill Country Galleria lawn, a stage will set the scene for Candy Wellins and Meghan Browne. The beloved children’s authors will talk about their biographical children’s books on strong women and exploration. Peter Keilty, beekeeper with Bees for All, will get the kids up and running with educational bee activities; Lucas Miller, a special hit singer for kids, will end the programming with animal-themed songs. Including, of course, one about bees.
“As a Bee City USA affiliate, we want to make sure we take every opportunity to educate the public about this important insect,” says Bee Cave Mayor Kara King, who is also a middle school science teacher. “What better way than a festival that celebrates education in so many ways? Whether you learn through reading, hands-on activities or even music and dance, this festival gives everyone a chance to learn something new and teaches kids how fun learning should be.”
Other authors at the festival include beloved Texas historian Stephen Harrigan, with his new book The Leopard is Loose; nature photographer and author Eric Pohl; naturalist Christopher Caran, with insight and art on the Westcave Preserve; and 94-year-old Bee Cave legend Cecil Perkins, with his riveting story of pulling himself out of poverty in the Texas Hill Country, The Value of a Nickel.
Visit the Books and the Bees official website for full lineup of events.