Nevada Humanities Committee (Reno, NV)

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Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk delivered the keynote address at the 2006 Vegas Valley Book Festival. Photo by Shawn Grant

It’s no mirage—the Vegas Valley Book Festival does get a little bigger and better each year. At the inaugural festival in 2002, several hundred people came to hear the venerable John Irving speak in suburban Henderson, Nevada. The Nevada Humanities Committee, an independent nonprofit group that first organized the festival, doubled the number of events in 2004 and added venues in Las Vegas. A year later, the city became a festival cosponsor and included it in the Las Vegas centennial celebration.

By 2006, the book festival was a busy two-day event in downtown Las Vegas that was more a celebration of the writing life than a cavalcade of book signings. Memoirists, poets, and music journalists had equal time on the podium. Workshops focused on screenwriting, editing, and self publishing.

To support bringing in guest authors and panelists, Nevada Humanities received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000. Chuck Palahniuk, author of the 1996 cult-classic Fight Club, served as keynote reader, but just as many people attended events such as the panel discussion on the Las Vegas years of Howard Hughes, the eccentric entrepreneur. Some of the authors attending the festival included novelist and screenwriter Peter Lefcourt, rock music critic Jim DeRogatis, slam poet Beau Sia, and children’s author Beti Kristoff.

The 2006 festival also included a spin-off, the Target Children’s Book Festival, a half day of family-focused readings, giveaways, and performances. More than 5,000 people attended book festival events.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)