An epic start to a lifetime of literacy is the legacy of one family.
In 2014, Jim Preston reached out to the Library Foundation. His wife Libby had recently passed away, and Jim wanted to honor her love of reading in a way that would have a lasting impact on the city she made her home. Libby loved children, Jim explained. She spent her career as a librarian in public schools, and volunteered in preschools even after her retirement. A longtime Library supporter, Libby recognized the importance of literacy, and the Library’s role in creating a more literate community. Jim asked the Library Foundation to help him find a way to honor his wife.
Timing is everything. The Library Foundation was about to launch the first Verse & Vino, and the event reminded many of the Novello Festival of Reading, a Library program that brought authors to Charlotte. The long-running festival came to a close due to budget cuts in 2010, and for many, Verse & Vino helps to fill that void. But only for adults.
With a generous gift from the Preston family and additional support from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo and others, EpicFest was born. Now in its fifth year, EpicFest 2019 will be the largest yet. Twelve authors and illustrators will participate, visiting Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools classrooms on Friday, November 8. On Saturday, November 9 they’ll be the featured guests at a FREE day-long festival for children and families at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center. This year will feature a writing workshops for teens, as well as a Young Adults Authors Panel and reception for teens and fans of YA literature.
In 2016, Jim Preston passed away. Today the festival honors both Jim and Libby Preston’s passion for reading, and their daughter Mary Lane Lennon continues to volunteer and serve on the planning committee. She reflects on the festival: “It is beyond exciting to me and my family to witness the amount of support our community has given to EpicFest! My father’s idea to honor my mother in a way that spoke to her love of reading and her firm belief in the importance of literacy for children has truly become an epic fest in a short period of time. I am so gratified to have my family’s name associated with an event that has captured the community's pride and energy every first weekend in November."
Join us November 9, 2019 for EpicFest. We guarantee you’ll make a memory of your own.