By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
The Third Annual F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival will take place Jan. 3-4 at the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center at 925 George W. Engram Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
The Book Festival includes two events with a "Meet and Greet" scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, with a $20 charge and the Book Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, with a $3 charge.
F.R.E.S.H is an acronym for Fiction, Romance, Erotica, Spiritual and Health.
This year's event is highlighted by New York Times Best Selling Author Omar Tyree.
"Mr. Tyree is very community oriented," Donna Banks, the center's director, said. "He came for no fee but we will give him something, which won't compare to what corporations can pay him. We appreciate him."
There will be more than 20 authors there, including local authors: Dr. Evelyn Bethune, Media Owner and Attorney Charles Cherry II, Bethune-Cookman University student James Bennett, Dr, Michelle Donice and Local Attorney Michael Pyle.
"This year we want to step it up. It's not different from other book fairs, but we try to support as many book fairs as possible. We have a lot of different genres with history, erotica, self-help, spiritual, motivational, poetry and more," Ms. Banks said.
The Meet and Greet session also will have poets Michael Bennett and Milton McCullough along with jazz artist Anthony Armstrong.
The F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival has one main purpose -- to promote literacy.
"Literacy is hard to sell. People don't often want to discuss it. We want adults to read more because it will make children read more," Ms. Banks said.
She is an author herself and is the owner of Ilas Diamond II, the corporation that runs the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival.
Illiteracy is an issue that still plagues people today even in our community.
"You cannot do anything without literacy. You limit your world. A lot of people cannot read and it affects their lives. Statistics show that 40 percent of senior citizens in our community cannot read or understand their prescriptions. It's big in health care and every aspect of our lives," Ms. Banks said.
If, the event gets any proceeds, they will donate them to the library in the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Center on Vine Street in Daytona Beach.
"Unfortunately, last year we didn't have any funds. This year we are asking each author to autograph a book and donate it to the library. We hope to write a check to the city where they can use the funds for the library," Ms. Banks said.
The event has grown and progressed over its short existence.
"I think its coming along greatly. It's always something going on in Daytona and we thought after the holidays and before NASCAR starts was the best time for the event. The first year it was on the beach side during MLK weekend. We had to pay for parking but last year was great in Midtown," Ms. Banks said.
The F.R.E.S.H. Book Fair is sponsored by the City of Daytona Beach, VITAS Hospice Care, City Commissioner Paula Reed, Ilas Diamonds II, Delta Sigma Theta Daytona Beach Chapter and Realtor Carolyn Hawking of the Realty Exchange.
"We would like to thank everyone for their support including the Daytona Beach Leisure Services Department, City Commissioner Paula Reed, all of our sponsors and everyone who made this happen," Ms. Banks said. "We hope to see the community come out and enjoy this event."