New York Times best-sellers to highlight Amelia Island Book Festival


Twenty-three years ago, the idea to have a book festival in Amelia Island took shape and now that idea has become a part of the local community’s annual traditions, which this year will be held Feb. 23 and 24.

It all started with a love of books that was shared by Don and Andrea Parker and Joe and Joani Selement, who combined their passion for reading with the beautiful area they lived in Northeast Florida, and the first festival in 2001 was the result.

Since its grassroots start, the festival has continued to grow, and strives to cultivate an excitement for reading and writing across generations.

According to festival marketing director Nicole York, the festival features a variety of people well-known in the literary world in a series of events including New York Times best-selling authors, independent publishers, award programs and workshops all open to the public.

Celebrity authors at this year’s festival will be New York Times best-selling authors David Baldacci, John Grisham and James Ponti, while the Authors’ Expo will have more than 100 exhibiting authors.

Something new for this year will be young adult/teen author breakout sessions that will give student attendees a copy of the featured author’s book.

“These events attract thousands of people for learning, entertainment and the excitement of seeing and meeting some of the most remarkable and provocative authors of the time,” York said.

The featured authors are chosen by the schools during the selection process, and each year, authors present to more than 13,000 students at both public and private schools in Nassau County.

Another way the festival has grown is that the festival is more than just two days of events, as it gets things started with a kick-off social event in September, which is designed to give volunteers, members, donors and sponsors a chance to learn more about the upcoming festival lineup.

The excitement then continued to build with a celebrity author luncheon in November to celebrate National Family Literacy Month.

This year’s festival itinerary includes a celebrity author gala on Feb. 23 followed by the authors’ expo and readers’ extravaganza as the highlight on Feb. 24.

The gala will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island at 4750 Amelia Island Parkway in Fernandina Beach and will include fine wine and food, question and answer discussion and a live auction. Tickets to the event can be purchased by going to

The extravaganza is free to the public and it will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fernandina Beach Middle School located at 315 Citrona Drive.

Two Nassau County high school students will also receive $5,000 scholarships, and applications are being accepted now for the program.

However, even with all the growth it has achieved over the years, the festival understands that it can make a difference even further.

“Starting this year, we are making efforts to expand beyond Nassau County into Northeast Florida and beyond,” York said. “We are working diligently to reach communities in Duval and St. Johns Counties by continuing to promote literacy and host literary events in these locations. We are striving to increase our reach and help more students in the area.”