Columbus library's FanFest launches with actors, authors, Quidditch and more

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comMay 14, 2014 

By definition, this year’s FanFest is kind of a big deal.

This is the second such annual festival, organized by the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries — but last year’s inaugural event was much smaller, with much less fanfare.

But with the success of last year’s Children’s Book Festival, the CVL decided a FanFest would be the perfect way to kick off summer reading.

So they got to work.

“My motto ... was just, ‘Let’s go big or go home,’” said Megan Aarant, a library associate at the South Columbus Branch who’s been organizing FanFest for months. “I don’t care — tweet anybody, email anybody you can think of. You never know who’s going to have a soft spot for the library and be like, ‘Yeah I’ll totally Skype!’”

That enthusiasm netted them actress Alaina Huffman, who “Supernatural” fans will recognize as the demonic Abaddon, and graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, who Aarant said was one of their biggest “gets.”

Both Huffman and Yang will Skype in with FanFest attendees. The “mini con” will also include a Quidditch ping pong tournament, a professional wrestling seminar, a panel with the the Alabama Paranormal Research Team and more. There will be a “ton of food” for sale.

“We wanted it to be like the library, where everybody can come and see somthing and particpate in somethin that they normally wouldn’t,” Aarant said.

FanFest will take over almost the entire first floor of Columbus Public Library’s Macon Road location, Aarant said. Activities will spread out into the reading garden, construction permitting.

The focus is still summer reading, which Aarant said can be a valuable way to keep kids motivated and educated between school terms.

CVL’s summer reading programs also target the reluctant reader, she said, which makes FanFest another good tie-in: For example, kids come in and are huge fans of Marvel’s “Iron Man” film series, but don’t realize it’s based on a long-running comic book.

Last year’s fest drew about 250 people and the CVL hopes to more than double that attendance last year.

Aarant said some local vendors are already on a waiting list for next year.

She wants the community’s involvement to only increase, too.

“We want people in the community to get invovlesd,” Aarant said. “If they’ve got something they’re a fan of or want to do a panel on, we would love for them to contact us.”

IF YOU GO

Saturday from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library, 300 Macon Road

Free. www.cvlga.org/atvrp2014

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