What better way to show off extensive renovations at the historic Boonton Holmes Library than to have it host the town's first-ever book festival?
With many interior and exterior improvements completed, the nonprofit Boonton Main Street organization conducted a groundbreaking Friday for a new backyard courtyard that will include a stage for intimate outdoor performances and events.
The Boonton Books and Beyond Festival will welcome more than 30 authors and presenters at the library, the Boonton Coffee Company and the Boonton Elks Lodge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 13.
With support from Boonton Mayor Richard Corcoran, the event was conceived "as a celebration of New Jersey’s own homegrown artists and authors, whether hailing from or based in the Garden State."
“We are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response from so many of the state’s outstanding writers,” said Tracy Pryer, Boonton’s director of recreation and festival co-chair. “The events will all be in-person, with appropriate COVID precautions in place, of course. So it’s a great opportunity for book lovers to meet and interact with authors.”
The participants represent a wide range of genres, including literary fiction, mystery, children’s picture books, TV scripts, comic books and more.
The festival presents a homecoming opportunity for Boonton Township native Gina Ippolito, who recently completed a two-year run as a scriptwriter for the CBS sitcom "The Unicorn."
"I think it's very cool that Boonton and Boonton Township and the surrounding areas have produced so many prolific writers with varied resumes," said Ippolito, who also wrote for the "Murphy Brown" reboot. "I'm excited to hear all of them speak. I think the whole town should be, too."
Ippolito recalls spending time at the Holmes Library as a child when her mother would study there for a graduate degree.
"She would just park me in the kids' section and I would devour the books until we left," Ippolito said. "It was one of my favorite places. I still have some of the free bookmarks they gave out."
Also appearing will be former Daily Record journalist Lorraina Ash, editor of the award-winning book "Corona City: One Anthology’s Remarkable Journey." Four contributing writers will join her for a discussion about the book, which compiled first-person stories and photography that follows life during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the New York-New Jersey region.
Festival events are free. Signed books from the presenters will be available for purchase.
“The festival schedule features more than 25 presentations in separate venues throughout the day,” library Director Lotte Newlin said. “That way, there will be something for all interests at any given time. Audiences should definitely plan to make a day of attending.”
Steven Kampschmidt, president of Boonton Main Street, said he hopes the festival will bring patronage to restaurants in town, some of which will feature a special prix-fixe lunch menu for the day.
“It’s great to have the participation of our fine eating establishments," he said. "It’s another excellent reason to visit Boonton on November 13.”
Presenters and visitors will find extensive renovations have already been completed at the library, including a bright new blue exterior color chosen to be appropriate for the Victorian Era, when the library was established at the top of Main Street and the corner of Boonton Avenue.
James Holmes donated the former residence in 1870 to be used as a library. The library received a makeover in 2010 after it was deeded over to the town.
More recently, a grant of $221,360 in 2020 from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund helped fund partial exterior restoration of the south, east and west elevations, including repairs to the siding and trim, restoration of wood windows, and painting.
Visit the festival website at www.boontonbooks.org for more information.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Boonton NJ historic library to host first book festival