by KATIE GILE
If you’ve ever strolled past the Fuller Warren Bridge on a Saturday morning, you’re no stranger to the kaleidoscopic offerings of the Riverside Arts Market. Held from 10 am to 4 pm, rain or shine every Saturday through December 21, RAM has earned its popularity among locals and visitors alike with handmade wares, unique entertainers and delicious treats.
In addition to its already crowd-gathering commodities, RAM offers “theme days” in which RAM regulars and newcomers can enjoy the market for whole new reasons.
Among its many colorful theme days like May’s “Arf Barket,” an event for RAM-goers and their four-legged family members, and RAM-i-con, which celebrated the geek/nerd in everyone, RAM will host a Saturday dedicated to local, literary talent, the “Local Authors Expo,” on June 29.
That day, in addition to RAM mainstays like the farmer’s market, RAM will provide a hotspot for local authors, says RAM Director Krysten Bennett.
RAM is extending a blanket welcome for applications as vendors, and invites authors and spoken word artists to step onto one of its three stages to entertain market-goers with poetry or a book reading. And unlike the usual, lengthy application process involved with becoming a RAM vendor, applicants must simply submit an email to apply for the Expo.
The event coincides with National Independent Booksellers Week (June 29th-July 6th), which is celebrated by local booksellers like Chamblins Bookmine. Bennett, an enthusiastic supporter of local talent, says the event was easy to conceive and perfect to host in tandem with a week dedicated to independent booksellers and artists.
“We recognize that writing is a significant art form, and we have so many authors in our community,” Bennett says. “We wanted to find a way to highlight their work, because it’s as good for them as the rest of us. Bringing an abundance of writers together benefits the entire reading community.”
As an avid reader and frequent patron of local bookshops like Chamblins, Bennett knows the power of a great book and the value of reading.
“Reading opens our minds to new ideas. It helps us to learn more about ourselves and others and about the world outside of our immediate sphere of existence. Art does that,” Bennett says. “I’m always excited about being given the opportunity to grow from exposure to someone else’s words and am genuinely grateful for my own giant bookcase.”
RAM took a page out of Ron Chamblin’s book, so to speak, in opening its stages for writers to perform poetry and readings.
“So many of our local bookstores have local author readings and signings.” Bennett says. “They always support the local community. We’d like to join their club and do the same. ”
Although the event was created with a mind to support only local talent, authors from outside of Jacksonville are also welcome to apply. But “there’s certainly something to be said for written works created and discovered in one’s backyard,” she says.
“You can walk into a Barnes & Noble and there are thousands of books to choose from. But it’s not often we think about how many incredibly talented writers live right here, and how many of our neighbors are constantly creating new works.” Bennett says. “[The Authors Expo ] is providing an opportunity for Jacksonville residents to see it for themselves. This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day.”
For more information about the Riverside Arts Market, visit riversideartsmarket.com. To join in the Authors Expo, send an email to [email protected]
Riverside Arts Market
by KATIE GILE