The major literary event of the year in northern Arizona is back in Payson. The fourth annual Payson Book Festival, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, July 21 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, showcases 80 Arizona authors as a celebration of books for all ages.

The goal of the festival presenters, Arizona Professional Writers Rim Country Chapter and Majestic Rim Retirement Living, is to enhance the love of reading by providing a friendly environment that encourages personal interaction between Arizona authors and their readers of all ages.

Each year the Payson Book Festival grows, with more authors and more activities. Authors love to come to the cool mountain town of Payson. Connie Cockrell, the director, receives calls and emails all year from authors. Now the festival has waiting list for this year and 2019.

Dee “Buckshot Dot” Strickland, Arizona’s and Payson’s own Culturekeeper, will perform with her “Music Tales of the West” cowboy songs and poetry.

Tom Morrissey, a KRIM “Radio Rider” DJ, author and songwriter will tell us about “Creating a Series.” We all have our stories so, let Patricia Brooks give you ideas on “Memoir Writing.” What is it like to be an author? Janette Rallison, who specializes in young adult fiction, will take you through “An Author’s Life,” and science fiction writer J.L. Doty, will share with you, “A Writer’s Journey.” Liz Warren tells great stories. She is the director and one of the founders of the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute in Phoenix.

This festival promotes literacy with the theme “Reading takes us to amazing places.” Dr. Seuss’ favorite “Cat in the Hat” will show up courtesy of Gail Gorry to read to the children.

First Things First each year has supported the festival by sharing books with young readers from birth to 5 years of age. This year the representatives will be reading stories in the Story Time Room along with Read On Arizona, a group committed to helping create an early literacy system that delivers the right program at the right time for every child.

Story Monster Inc.’s Linda Radke, award-winning publisher of more than 100 books, will be there with her ”Story Monster.”

You have all the genres at the Payson Book Festival. Do you enjoy reading with your little ones and want to buy books for special occasions? There will be many children’s authors who would enjoy talking to you and showing you their books. Maybe some real life stories with fantastic photos is your interest. Historian James Bultema knows police history, he is the author of the acclaimed book “Guardians of Angels: A History of the Los Angeles Police Department” and now, “The Protectors,” each of which tell a story with the use of spectacular photographs.

A free ticket for drawings throughout the day for prizes will be given to every visitor. Arizona authors and businesses from Rim Country have donated some exceptional gifts for a silent auction, as well.

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