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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Constance Alexander

Book Fairs are such wonderful and unique events, aren't they? Kentuckians are lucky to have two such events each year. We can't wait to see everyone in Frankfort on Saturday, November 5th for the 35th Annual Kentucky Book Fair!

Saturday morning, Berkeley California. The city is just waking up and stretching. As the homeless pack up their gear for another day of roaming and grazing, the runners…

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New web site!

The Kentucky Book Fair has a new website at the Kentucky Humanities Council.
Click below and check out the site and information for the 2016 book fair.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kentucky by Heart: Carl West

Kentucky by Heart: Carl West will always be an important part of the state’s literary heritage

By Steve Flairty
Special to
I was saddened by the recent death of journalist Carl West, who helped fledgling writers like me have a chance to get our words out in public.
He founded the Kentucky Book Fair, now annually attended by thousands in downtown Frankfort. I’ve participated in the event six times as an author with my books, along with numerous times as a regular attendee. The KBF never ceases to be fun, inspiring, and a great networking experience for meeting authors, other book lovers, and people in the book business.
Campbell County native Carl West, who died recently, was the long-time editor of the Frankfort State Journal and the founder of the Kentucky Book Fair (State Journal Photo)
Campbell County native Carl West, who died recently, was the long-time editor of the Frankfort State Journal and the founder of the Kentucky Book Fair (State Journal Photo)
It also reminds Kentuckians that, in many ways, the state of Kentucky has a literary landscape that is operating at a higher level than is often portrayed in national discourse. Nationally recognized writers like Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, Bobbie Ann Mason and Silas House are all rooted in the fabric of the state, and, going further back, who hasn’t heard of Robert Penn Warren, from Guthrie—America’s first National Poet Laureate—and a fellow from W-Hollow by the name of Jesse Stuart.
Carl West understood that and his passion to portray and foster literacy led him to establish the KBF in 1981 from his post as the editor of the State Journal in Frankfort. This came after he returned to his state in 1978 from Washington, DC, where he worked as an award-winning journalist for Scripps-Howard.
Connie Crowe worked closely with Carl as the director of the KBF from 2002 until February of 2015.
“Carl was my mentor, boss, and friend,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing (at first) or getting into,” she said. “Carl taught me to be a better writer and a better reader. He was the heart and soul of the Book Fair and we can only hope to carry on his legacy.”
Steve Flairty grew up feeling good about Kentucky. He recalls childhood day trips (and sometimes overnight ones) orchestrated by his father, with the take-off points being in Campbell County. The people and places he encountered then help define his passion about the state now. After teaching 28 years, Steve spends much of his time today writing and reading about the state, and still enjoys doing those one dayers (and sometimes overnighters). “Kentucky by Heart” shares part and parcel of his joy. A little history, much contemporary life, intriguing places, personal experiences, special people, book reviews, quotes, and even a little humor will, hopefully, help readers connect with their own “inner Kentucky.”
To my unabashed sense of pride, Carl was raised in my old stomping grounds, Grants Lick, and he graduated from my alma mater, Campbell County High School. I recognized Carl’s name long before I began my own writing career about 15 years ago. I recall his byline in the Kentucky Post back in the ‘60s, and Aunt Doris and Uncle Donnie talked about going to school with him. A well-known journalist coming from Grants Lick was pretty exciting, I thought.
And though I certainly couldn’t rightfully call him a close friend, I enjoyed seeing Carl at least once per year at the KBF, or at events surrounding KBF. I introduced myself there in 2005 when I brought my first book, Tim Farmer: A Kentucky Woodsman Restored, and noted being from Grants Lick, like him.
He immediately starting asking me questions about my uncle and aunt, who he remembered from Campbell County High School. He seemed genuinely interested, and he never failed to remember me from that point forward, including this past book fair in 2015.
Though I’m not sure he researched it and it probably isn’t a fact, I still beam thinking about one thing he told me after first meeting him:
“You’re the only author who ever came from Grants Lick.” To be told that by Carl West, a Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer, gave me inspiration to continue writing. I’ll never forget him, and Carl will be an important part of the state’s heritage for future generations.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of six books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and five in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #4,” was released in 2015. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Carl L. West

Carl L. West's family requested that expressions of sympathy can be made to the Kentucky Book Fair, P.O. Box 715, Frankfort, KY 40602.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Carl West Obituary

FRANKFORT - Carleton Lewis West, of Frankfort passed away Sun, Feb 28, 2016 after a short illness. He was 74 years old.

Carl was born in Cincinnati, OH on Jan 14, 1942 the son of the late John A. West and Dorothy Lewis West. He is survived by his brother, John A. West (Ginger) of Georgetown, SC; a niece, Sarah Windisch West-Hoover (Paul) of Parker, CO; a nephew, Timothy A. (Lea) West of Lexington, KY; and a great niece, Caroline Armstrong West. Also surviving is his beloved golden retriever, Mac.

Carl grew up at Kenton Farm, the West Family farm in Campbell County. He was a graduate of Campbell County High School and the University of Kentucky School of Journalism. He served briefly in the US Air Force. He began his journalism career as a reporter with the Kentucky Post in Covington, KY, later moving to Washington, DC where he was a reporter with Scripps Howard covering national stories including the Watergate Hearings.

In 1978 Carl returned to Kentucky to become the Editor of the State Journal where he served for 36 years, retiring two years ago with the title Editor Emeritus.

A private funeral service is planned. A Memorial Service to celebrate Carl's life will be held at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington on April 16, 2016 at 11am. He will be interred in the West Family plot in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH.

Arrangements are under the direction of Harrod Brothers Funeral Home. Condolences may be shared via the online guest book at
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader on Mar. 3, 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Former State Journal Editor Carl West dies

State Journal File Photo by Suzanne Feliciano

Published 7:35 pm Sunday, February 28, 2016 (The State Journal) 

Legendary State Journal retired Editor Carl West died at 12:20 p.m. Sunday at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington following complications from a major stroke last week in Frankfort.
West, 74, recently received the Al Smith Award for Public Service Through Community Journalism for his vision in creating the Kentucky Book Fair.
He became editor of The State Journal in 1979. By that time, West already had three Pulitzer Prize nominations under his belt from his time as an investigative reporter for Scripps-Howard in Washington, D.C.
West and another Scripps-Howard reporter, Alan Horton, uncovered major misuse of Pentagon funds and won the coveted Raymond Clapper Award, one of the oldest of the big-time Washington journalism awards.
West went on to be inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003.
“For some four decades Carl was an outstanding journalist in both Washington and Frankfort,” said Dick Wilson, a retired Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper reporter and news bureau chief.
“He loved the competition of news gathering, and few things thrilled him more than an important, exclusive and accurate story.
“Carl was a treasured friend for 50 years, and despite his gruff exterior he was a kind and considerate person who loved books and reading but was still struggling with the digital world.”
Wilson, who wrote for The State Journal before going to The Courier-Journal, said West sincerely believed that frequently recited phrase by Lord Acton that the role of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
“In Carl’s sense of journalism, that doesn’t mean reckless,” said Wilson in 2003, just before West’s Hall of Fame reception. “It doesn’t mean you go out looking for fights or controversies. It means you do your job as a representative of the public in the area where you’re published.
“I think Carl has a great sense of fairness. He believes in developing young talent, using his position and his experiences to try to help young reporters get good experience and thrive.”
West, a lifelong bachelor, once said he was married to journalism.
“No two days are the same in journalism,” West said in 2003. “Journalism is being near great events and great people. It’s examining great events, great people. I think daily newspaper journalism takes you places no other job can take you, no matter what you do. You see the whole range of human experience – all the emotions, anger, tears, sorrow and joy. You experience all that.
“You see all different kinds of people in all different kinds of situations. You’re constantly learning things, seeing how they work, seeing what makes them tick. You’re tearing them apart and putting them back together. I don’t know what else you can do and get all that. I really don’t.”
Ed Staats, a retired chief of The Associated Press’ Kentucky operations and friend of West, said in 2003, just before they went into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame together, that West “set a high journalistic standard for the countless reporters, editors and photographers he has hired over the years.
“In addition, Carl brought a deep knowledge and a strong interest in politics to the job – essential elements for a strong newspaper in a capital city.”
Staats also said West was not “one of those cookie-cutter editors now seen in corporate newsrooms.
He’s the genuine article. Carl is sort of a character, an independent cuss with a very interesting personality and multi-layered interests.”
Phil Case, a former editor of The State Journal who worked as features and sports coordinator in the newsroom with West, said, “Carl was a consummate newsman, one of a vanishing breed of editors concerned about good, fair community journalism. It was my distinct pleasure to work with him for 35 years.”
Ann Dix Maenza, former publisher of The State Journal, said West “was the most professional newsman I’ve known. He lived and breathed news – never hurried, cool under pressure.
“He freely shared his time and knowledge with reporters entering the field, and even the most seasoned reporter learned from him. A gruff exterior at first glance, but Carl’s heart was pure gold. It was quite an honor to have worked with him for almost 20 years.”
State Journal editorial cartoonist Linda Boileau said she would always remember his great kindness that he would sometimes hide behind a gruff exterior.
“When Carl wanted me to really hit hard in a cartoon, he would say, ‘Load it up, Boileau, load it up!”
When West decided to retire in 2013, he handed the reins over to one of his former reporters, Dan Liebman.
“Carl was more than just a mentor to me,” Liebman said. “He was a confidant, a friend, a sounding board. Throughout my journalism career I used lessons learned from Carl.”
“During Carl’s tenure at The State Journal, Frankfort was a better town because of his presence,” Liebman said. “He was a watchdog if ever there was one, yet he had the respect of those he watched, not just because of his journalism but because of his journalistic ethics.”
Liebman said he would never forget writing his first big story for The State Journal right on deadline.
“Carl was over my shoulder helping me,” Liebman said. “I was writing on deadline and he was editing on deadline, both of us on the fly. It was exhilarating. It was why I went into journalism.”
West was the younger of two brothers and grew up on a big farm in Northern Kentucky that was once his grandparents’ horse farm and the home of Typhoon, a thoroughbred who ran in the 1982 Kentucky Derby.
He was an outstanding athlete who played mostly fullback and end on his high school football team and was a starting forward on the basketball team at Campbell County High School.
After high school, a football injury at Bainbridge Naval Prep School in Maryland ended his hopes of playing college football and led to West’s undergoing knee surgery four times.
At one point, he thought he might follow his older brother, John, into law, but when he got out of the military, he found himself drawn to journalism instead.
Ron Herron, retired city editor and editorial page editor of The State Journal, actually took some journalism classes at UK with West in the mid-1960s.
“Carl had already completed a stint in the military, and even though his entry into higher education had been somewhat delayed, he had the advantage of a head start in life experience over those of us who had gone directly from high school to the university,” Herron said. “I recall he was a good student, but we didn’t get to know each other at the time. While Carl began his journalistic career at the Kentucky Post in Northern Kentucky, I hired on at The State Journal in 1969.”
Herron said West made a professional leap from Kentucky to the nation’s capital, where he covered the Pentagon for Scripps-Howard and even shared in some of the Watergate reportage then underway before Al Dix hired him as editor of The State Journal in 1979.
Lloyd Lynch, general manager of The State Journal, said he remembers when West first came to the newspaper to replace longtime Editor S.C. Van Curon.
“Carl brought a national flair to our hometown newspaper from his many years of covering the events in Washington D.C.,” Lynch said. “As a teenager working in the circulation department, I was in awe of his knowledge and great stories.”
West also had a flair for public speaking and was often invited to appear on television news shows such as Al Smith’s Comment on Kentucky on KET and WLEX’s Your Government hosted by Sue Wylie.
“He was the nicest person I ever knew,” Wylie said Sunday. “He was honest, ethical, kind, generous, and a very modest man.”
When West wasn’t focused on the news business, he loved spending time with his Golden retrievers Mac 1 and Mac 2, fly-fishing, riding his Honda Valkyrie motorcycle, smoking his pipe, and working on genealogy. He said he was sure he was related to Daniel Boone.
Ellen Hellard, a retired employee of the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives and a member of the Book Fair board of directors since its inception in 1981, feels she knew West as well as most outside the newsroom.
She described him as a “heart-of-gold curmudgeon.” Hellard said his job as newspaper editor was intertwined with his volunteer job as Book Fair president because he believed “writers need to be honored for their creation – for their books, stories and words.
“He worked diligently to be sure writers are honored through the Book Fair, and to promote the value of reading along with that. His dedication to the Book Fair was legendary.”
West’s office at The State Journal was filled with books and Book Fair memorabilia. One framed piece of art on his office wall was a Cicero quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
According to his brother, John West, a retired assistant U.S. attorney, there will be a private funeral service for the family, but arrangements are still pending.
A public memorial service will be held April 16 at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington at a time to be announced later.
“He was a newspaperman’s newspaperman,” John West said. “He loved his profession and he was good at it. He was a great Kentuckian and the Commonwealth of Kentucky has lost a great citizen.”

Monday, February 29, 2016

Kentucky book fair founder and newspaper editor Carl West dies

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Guidelines For Author Selection


The 35th annual Kentucky Book Fair will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at the Frankfort Convention Center. Children’s Day at the Book Fair will be Friday, November 4, 2016.  Author attendance at the Kentucky Book Fair is by invitation only. The author selection committee will choose authors and titles from those submitted to us no later than May 15, 2016.
Please note that the deadlines are earlier than usual this year. The Kentucky Humanities Council is managing the Kentucky Book Fair this year for the first time. The catalog is scheduled to be included in the fall Kentucky Humanities magazine and will have to go to print a month earlier than in the past.

Important Dates:
May 15, 2016 - The Author Selection Committee will choose among the entries submitted by this date. 
July 15, 2016 - Selections will be completed by the committee by this date.   
August 1, 2016 - Invitations to the authors will be issued based on the committee recommendations. 
August 15, 2016 - After receiving invitation, authors must confirm participation in the Kentucky
                               Book Fair by this date.
All titles submitted must be in publication by September 30, 2016 to allow us to procure and sell them at the event. To submit your title(s), complete author/book submission form and send with two copies of the book (or manuscript, if in pre-production) to Kentucky Book Fair, P.O. Box 715, Frankfort, KY 40602. Please include with the submission your mailing address, phone number, and email address plus the retail price of book.
All submitted material becomes property of the Kentucky Book Fair and will not be returned to the author. Each title will be reviewed be the Author Selection Committee for inclusion in the Fair. Please be aware that the committee gives preference to books that have been published since our last event, those written by Kentucky authors or former Kentuckians, and those titles that have a clear Kentucky connection.
If the books are Print on Demand (POD), the author will be responsible for supplying the books for the event. The Kentucky Book Fair will pay the author 60% of the agreed upon retail price of the title for each copy sold during the event. For books that are not POD, the Kentucky Book Fair will procure them from the publisher. However, for this to occur, the titles must be obtained on a returnable basis with no prepayment required and at least a 40% discounted rate. Otherwise, the author will be requested to provide the books for the event as described with the POD titles.  
Author/Book Submission form can be downloaded here. 

If you need anything further, please call Book Fair Manager at 859-257-5932 or email her at

Monday, February 8, 2016

Kentucky Humanities Council and the Kentucky Book Fair have joined forces

The Kentucky Humanities Council and the Kentucky Book Fair have joined forces.  The Kentucky Humanities Council (KHC) will present the 35th annual Kentucky Book Fair on November 5, 2016, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, KY. The sixth annual Children’s Day will be held on Friday, November 4, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., also at the convention center.

Previously operated by a nonprofit independent board of volunteers, the Kentucky Book Fair will now be under the management of the KHC, while continuing a partnership with the Kentucky Book Fair board and the many volunteers who have made the book fair the state’s premier literary event for the past 34 years.

The Kentucky Book Fair attracts writers of all genres and patrons of all walks of life in a celebration of shared passion and mutual interest — the importance and promotion of writing and reading. Each year nearly 200 authors are present at the Kentucky Book Fair, which seeks to promote and support literacy for the public good.

The KHC is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The KHC is supported by the National Endowment and by private contributions. For information about the Council’s programs and services, visit

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Kentucky Book Fair Appalachian Panel


Karen McElmurray was the moderator for the Appalachian Writing: Everything Old Is New Again. This panel was co-sponsored by the Kentucky Book Fair and the Kentucky Historical Society.

Panelists included Chris Scotton, author of The Secret Wisdom of  the Earth; Robert Gipe, author of Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel; and David Joy, author of Where All Light   Tends to Go.