Celebrating the 150th ANNIVERSARY of the Concord Free Public Library in October 2023!
The Concord Festival of Authors
a town-wide celebration of the written and spoken word
planned under the auspices of the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library
For 31 years, the Concord Festival of Authors (CFA) has celebrated the written and spoken word throughout the town of historic Concord, Massachusetts. Every October, the CFA collaboratively honors the narrative arts by featuring dozens of literary and performative programs, the majority of which are free to the public.
In 2018, the CFA shifted from founder Rob Mitchell’s leadership to co-create a Bridge Year led by Kerry Cronin (then Concord Free Public Library Director), Dawn Rennert (owner of Concord Bookshop) and Lara Wilson (founder of nonprofit mindful wellness collaborative, Be Well Be Here). Twenty-five events presented by over a dozen Concord organizations took place throughout the month of October. Fall 2019 marked a shift in the development and implementation of the CFA, which moved to a two-week schedule at the end of October. The Friends of the CFPL took on a leadership role in oversight and planning, hosting a third of all events, including a Keynote Presentation by National Book Award winner, Sigrid Nunez. With the encouragement of CFA founder Rob Mitchell, CFA Team member Lara Wilson was appointed festival curator by the CFA Team, comprised of members from the Friends of the CFPL, the CFPL Corporation, the Concord Bookshop, the Concord Museum, Orchard House and The Umbrella Arts Center. At the end of 2019, Rob Mitchell officially retired and the CFA Foundation passed the torch to the Friends of the CFPL. The Friends continue to oversee the administration of the CFA with generous marketing support from the CFPL Corporation.
When challenges arose in 2020 due to Covid-19, the CFA Team pivoted yet again to co-create exceptional virtual literary programming. The benefit of this massive undertaking was the festival’s ability to reach an international audience with featured events such as the CFA 2020 Kick-Off with esteemed author and historian, Dr. Jill Lepore, winner of the Concord Free Public Library’s 22nd annual Ruth Miller Memorial Award for Excellence in American History, presented by the Friends of the CFPL. With intention, in 2021 the CFA curator and team deepened their commitment to equity and inclusion with regard to leadership as well as event planning. The Robbins House, Concord’s African American History Museum, joined the CFA Team with Board Member Nikki Turpin leading the search committee that confirmed CFA Keynote Speaker, Dr. Clint Smith, author of the bestseller How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America.
The 31st annual Concord Festival of Authors, which runs October 20-30, coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Concord Free Public Library. This year’s event kicks off on Friday, October 20th with Keynote Speaker Jennifer DeLeon and continues with the Miller Award presentation on the 21st, the Riedel Lecture with Chris Van Dusen on the 22nd, the 150th Concord Free Public Library celebration with Elizabeth Graver on the 27th, and the Thoreau Prize presentation honoring Terry Tempest Williams on 28th. Join us as the CFA 2023 presents top-notch, town-wide literary events that celebrate the practice of storytelling and engaged community conversation.
THE FRIENDS OF THE CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY present
CFA 2023 KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Jennifer De Leon
“The Power of Storytelling”
Friday, October 20 , 7:00 PM
CFPL Goodwin Forum
129 Main Street, Concord, MA