COLOMBIA — After two years of virtual programming, the Unbound Book Festival is set to take place in person this weekend.
The event will take place in downtown Columbia from Thursday, April 21 through Sunday, April 24.
Unbound Festival and founder Alex George says it’s “beyond amazing, we’re so excited”.
The Unbound Book Festival welcomes authors from around the world to talk about their books, their work and their lives. George says there are “readings, book signings, panel discussions, workshops, a whole variety of things” over the festival weekend.
George still held the festival in 2020 and 2021, but it was completely virtual. Although the event was online, the 2021 festival welcomed over 50,000 virtual attendees in three months.
He says there’s no such thing as an in-person festival. “There’s this intimacy and connection that you get with an audience and an author that you don’t get virtually.”
According to George, about 42 authors are flying for the event. Several local authors will also make an appearance. “We’ve been talking to these authors for months and months,” George says. “Personally, I can’t wait to meet them all.”
Plus, a few authors will zoom into the event to talk about their books.
This year’s keynote speaker, Viet Thanh Nguyen, is a Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of literature at the University of Southern California.
In-person attendance isn’t the only change. This year, the Unbound Festival will be held at eight different locations in downtown Columbia. Previously, the festival was held only at Stephens College.
Various festival events will take place at the Missouri Theatre, the Tiger Ballroom at the Tiger Hotel, the Katy Ballroom at the Broadway Hotel, Ragtag Cinema, Serendipity Salon, Orr Street Studios and Stephens College Campus.
George hopes a downtown location will provide “more exposure.” He says they hope to “attract more people who maybe didn’t think they were coming, but just walked past.”
All Unbound events are free. “We hope that as a result more people will show up,” George says.
The event is in-person for the first time since COVID, but the board still has some safety measures in place. All participants must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within the last 48 hours. Additionally, all attendees must wear masks when inside.
The 2022 Unbound Festival kicks off on Thursday, April 21 where 15 authors will share short stories to celebrate the revival of the festivities in person.
A full calendar of events can be found here.