Home 2023 Authors Events Directions Sponsors Exhibitor Info Essay Contest About WAG Past Festivals

27–28, 2023


January 27–28, 2023

Bringing Readers and Writers Together in ‘23

Book Festival

Welcome to the 2023 Sunshine State Book Festival—bringing readers and writers together again for the fourth year. Our 2023 festival will feature 150 authors writing in 15 genres. Their photos are displayed alphabetically on the 2023 Authors page. Over a third of them have won literary awards.

This year’s keynote address will be given by Janis Owens, notable author of four novels, a regional cookbook, and a book of nonfiction. She will speak on Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. Learn more about Janis below.

New in 2023, presentations by over two-dozen participating festival authors:

  • 10 readings by authors of various genres
  • 12 children’s book authors telling stories to kids
  • Other Worlds – a panel of 4 fantasy and science-fiction authors

See Events for starting times.

Free Admission


Win Free Books

Hourly prize drawings during the Saturday festival.


Volunteer Opportunity

You don’t have to be a book author to be part of the Book Festival. Volunteers are needed for both days. Meet and mingle with the authors while providing an invaluable service. Click here to sign up.


A celebration of learning and literacy

A book festival is a celebration of learning and literacy that should be fun as well as educational, bringing together people of all ages who share a love of reading and who will leave the event inspired by their experiences. And maybe with a free autographed book, as there will be hourly drawings where lucky visitors can win a free copy of a book written by a festival author.

Students in grades 9 – 12 are invited to participate in our essay contest. Top ten essays receive a $100 scholarship.

An informal opening-night reception, Friday, January 27, 2023 will allow authors, sponsors and interested members of the public to meet and mingle.


Book festival 2022

Student Essay Contest

Students in grades 9 – 12 win a $100 scholarship. Enter our essay contest.

Reinfred Addo and Nathan Brooken

Celebrating Florida’s Literary Culture

Florida has an amazing literary history dating back over two centuries, and Gainesville is a leading center of literary culture which over two hundred writers, novelists, playwrights, and poets call home.

From naturalist William Bartram’s book Travels, penned in the 1770s, to bestselling authors of today, writers have succumbed to the charm of our area. These include poet laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and winners of the science-fiction Nebula Award. The Sunshine State Book Festival’s goal is to further an appreciation of reading and provide the opportunity for readers to meet and interact with authors.

Notable Regional writers († indicates author is deceased)

Literature/Novels: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings†, Harry Crews†, Zora Neale Hurston†, Padgett Powell, Lauren Groff, Joe Haldeman, Jill Ciment, Lawrence Dorr, Charlotte Porter, James Haskins, Rick Yancy, Janis Owens

History/Memoir: Michael Gannon†, Sudie Cauthen, Paul Ortiz, Bob Mason, Kevin McCarthy, James Haskins†, Rick Kilby, David Coburn, Gary Mormino, Chris Monaco, John Pickard, Sidney Lanier†, George Barbour†, Daniel Schafer, Barbara Purdy, Jerry Milanich, Gary Libby, David Leavitt, Steve Noll

Naturalists/Environment: William Bartram†, John Muir†, Jack Davis, Archie Carr†, Bob Knight, Bill Belleville, Lars Andersen, Cynthia Barnett, Steve Noll, David Tedeger, Stetson Kennedy†, Margaret Tolbert, Murray Laurie, Gary Monroe

Poet Laureates: Robert Frost†, Lola Haskins, E. Stanley Richardson

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


Sunny or Not

The festival is completely indoors and will be held January 28, 2023, rain or shine.

Janis Owens to Be Keynote Speaker

Janis Owens

We are pleased to announce that noted author Janis Owens has agreed to be our keynote speaker. She is the author of four novels, a regional cookbook, and a book of nonfiction.

The only daughter of a Pentecostal preacher turned insurance salesman, she inherited her love of storytelling from her parents. Born in Marianna, Florida, she now lives in Newberry, Florida. Owens attended the University of Florida and studied under famed novelist Harry Crews. Her novels include My Brother Michael,The Schooling of Claybird Catts, Myra Sims, and American Ghost.

Owens’s essays on Florida life have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Writer’s Digest, and many other publications. She also published a memoir cookbook, The Cracker Kitchen, with an Introduction by Pat Conroy. Her latest book, Hidden in Plain Sight: A History of the Newberry Mass Lynching of 1916, concerns the aftermath of a dark period in the history of the American South.


Bob Knight 2022


Help Spread the Word

Letting everyone know about our festival is important to the community. We’d appreciate your help getting the word out. Please mention it to friends and coworkers. Please send them the link: SunshineStateBookFestival.com and make sure to share it on your social media.

The Ilene Silverman Show dedicated an entire episode to the 2023 Sunshine State Book Festival. Broadcast on five Gainesville-area TV stations, it may now be viewed on YouTube. Many thanks to Ilene!


  • Friday, January 27, 2023

  • 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church Directions

  • Author Reception

    Meet and mingle with fellow authors and interested members of the public.

    Free refreshments.


  • Saturday, January 28, 2023

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church Directions

  • Sunshine State Book Festival

    Meet 150 authors who will discuss, sell, and sign their books at the festival.

    Books of 15 genres will be for sale.

    Hourly drawings for free books given to attendees.

    Children’s book authors will supply free worksheets / coloring sheets to children.

    Students in the school essay contest will receive prizes.

    Food trucks.

    Handicap Accessible.

    Plenty of free parking.

Food Trucks

Trinity United Methodist Church Directions
Saturday, January 28, 2023

Festival Location

Trinity United Methodist Church

Trinity building

4000 N.W. 53rd Ave
Gainesville, Florida

Easy access and plenty of free parking.

Wheelchair accessible facility.

Food trucks will provide dining choices.

Trinity United Methodist Church is located on NW 53rd Ave., just east of NW 43rd St. Look for festival signs at the driveway entrance.


Best Western Gateway Grand

4200 NW 97th Blvd
Gainesville, Florida
Phone: (352) 331-3336

Closest hotel to the Festival.

Located just west of I-75, exit 390.

Recommended hotel for out-of-town Festival attendees.

Gateway Grand hotel entrance

Best Western Gateway Grand – Gainesville, FL.

The Sunshine State Book Festival

is made possible with the assistance of these gracious sponsors:


Please consider becoming one of our sponsors.  Download a Sponsor Brochure
View a video on our Youtube channel.

Make a Donation

Personal donations make a difference, too. Support the Sunshine State Book Festival by clicking the button below.


WAG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.

The Sunshine State Book Festival is funded in part by Visit Gainesville, Alachua County, FL. This program/event is funded in part by a grant from the City of Gainesville, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. Additional funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: DTN: 3642940 License #: CH66096
A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free within the state. 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) www.FloridaConsumerHelp.com.
Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state.