The West Texas Book & Music Festival is going on all this week in Abilene. This is the festival’s ninth year, and it is now recognized as one of the best in Texas.
Here are 25 good reasons (there are more) why you should try to take in some of the events, most of which are free thanks to the festival’s generous sponsors.
1. You will be amazed, maybe also amused, at the variety of Texas authors in the Hall of Texas Authors at the Abilene Civic Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
2. If you haven’t met Abilene author Bill Neal, come hear him tell some tales about justice on the Texas frontier. He speaks at noon Wednesday. His latest book is “Sex, Murder and the Unwritten Law.” If you can’t make his Wednesday program, he will also be in the Hall of Authors on Saturday.
3. It’s hard to describe the Grammy-winning “nuclear polka” band Brave Combo, but suffice it to say that the band plays upbeat world music that is always fun to listen to. Catch Brave Combo and the Texas Swing Kings in a concert at the Paramount Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 and $25.
4. Kathi Appelt is one of the best children’s authors anywhere, not just in Texas. She will be part of a 9 a.m. session Saturday on Writing for Children (it’s free) and will be presented the A.C. Greene Award at the Boots & Books Luncheon at noon Saturday (tickets are $30, 691-1868).
5. One of Abilene’s best known authors is Nancy Robinson Masters. She will be on the Writing for Children panel Saturday and also will speak at the luncheon.
6. Diane Gonzales Bertrand of San Antonio writes bilingual books for children. She also will be on the Writing for Children panel, will speak at the luncheon, and will read at a story time session at the new Mockingbird Branch Library at 3:30 Saturday afternoon.
7. Bryan Burrough is the author of one of the best-selling books about Texas this year – “The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes.” He speaks at 10 a.m. Saturday and also at the luncheon.
8-9. Two other authors who have written about Texas icons – LBJ and Shiner Beer – are speaking at 10 a.m. and at the luncheon – retired General James Cross and Dallas author Mike Renfro.
10. If you like to cook, or even eat, you ought to come hear cookbook authors Terry Thompson-Anderson, Tricia Henry and Betsy Nozick at noon Thursday at the main library.
11. If you want to get more out of your computer – for fun or profit -- let Leland Harden tell you how to do it. Noon Monday at the library. He’s the author of “Digital Engagement,” a book on Internet marketing.
12-14. Bob Favor spent his career in law enforcement, most of it as a Texas Ranger, and he has written a book about his experiences. Bob and two other storytellers, Carol Walt of Cross Plains and Murray Edwards of Clyde, speak at noon Tuesday at the library.
15. McMurry history professor Don Frazier makes history come alive, and he will talk about his newest book, “Fire in the Cane Field,” at noon Wednesday.
16. Gary Hartman is a music historian and also a musician, and he will talk and sing about Texas music history at noon Friday at the library. He also will perform at the Friday night concert.
17-20. Stop by Minter Park at noon Monday through Thursday for some free “Pickin’ in the Park” music by local musicians you will enjoy – JamisonPriest, Happy Fat, Slim Chance, and Catclaw Creek.
21. If you like to belt out the good old gospel hymns, come to the fourth annual West Texas Gospel Hymnfest at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center. Free songbooks.
22. Have you been to the exhibit for the West Texas Music Hall of Fame? The festival’s opening reception will be there at 6 p.m. Monday, Rose Park Shopping Center, 2510 S. 7th St.
23. How many Abilenians wrote a book in the past year? If you guessed 30, you’re close. See the fruits of their labor at a reception at the library, 6 p.m. Tuesday.
24. Enjoy the World-Famous Hardin-Simmons University Cowboy Band at theBoots & Books Luncheon on Saturday.
25. Read a book by a Texas author. If you need help finding one, well that’s what this week is all about.