Featuring "The Princess Bride ," this festival offered programs related to the book and movie, starting with a sword and mask-making craft (a program we called "The Man in Black") and ending with a fused-glass pendant making workshop ("The Bride"). The objective was to feature a range of library programs for all ages and interests.
I had finished a successful OneClinton OneBook series in 2016 and I was not ready to do another one, but I read that it was the 30th anniversary of "The Princess Bride" movie, which is based on a book. I read the book and decided to do a more family-friendly OneClinton OneBook.
I thought about all of the peripheral events that could be associated with "The Princess Bride" and lined them up. I probably planned about six months in advance.
This was a monthlong festival with events happening throughout town, mostly at the library. Our programs included:
- The Man in Black: A sword and mask-making craft at the Clinton Parks & Recreation
- R.O.U.S.: Animal Adventures showed off their "rodents of unusal size," among other creatures in their menagerie
- The Princess: A jewelry-making craft program that was hosted at the Clinton Senior Center
- The Revels: Featured a minstrel singing songs and telling stories from the Middle Ages
- The Sword Fight: A sword fight demonstration hosted at Corcoran House Assisted Living
- The Bride: A jewelry-making program featuring hand-made fused glass pendants
- The Sicilian: A trivia contest (View the trivia questions under Attachments at right.)
We tried to arrange a fire swamp, like in the story, but that didn't work out.
I created an awesome brochure, and each event was associated with a character in the book. I sent out information on Facebook, in the newspaper, to the PTA and to local Facebook pages. (View the brochure under Attachments at right.)
After The Man in Black mask-making program and Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S.) animal show, a local group was showing the movie as a fundraiser. I shared some brochures with them, and they were excited to share the information. A couple people came to the jewelry-making workshop who had heard about it at the fundraiser.
A lot of people thought a "Princess Bride"-themed series was a great idea and they wanted to come, but the series was not as well-attended as I had hoped. Also, apparently, it is not obvious to everyone what a minstrel is.
Of all of our programs in the series, the musician was the most costly performer. I asked our partners to contribute some funds for each event.
Below is an breakdown of the costs:
- Minstrel (musician): $495
- Mask-making craft kits: less than $100 (purchased from Oriental Trading)
- Sword-fighting demo: $389 (hosted at Assisted Living, $100 paid by same)
- Fused-glass pendants: $200
- Animal Adventures: $375
- 25 copies of the book: $250 (estimate)
- Princess jewelry: (hosted and paid by Senior Center)
- Movie license: less than $200 for a year (annual, paid by our Friends of the Library)
- Color printing, brochure, posters: $300 (high estimate)
Since many of the programs were hosted off-site, my day of event activity consisted of confirming with the venues that they were still prepared to host the event and whether or not they were capable of running the program without me present.
Last year, Corcoran House hosted Irish step dancers, and they have a great space to host stuff. So this year, that's where we hosted The Swordfight. Unfortately, I didn't realize how awful the acoustics were. It was tough to hear the sword presentation.
People who went to an event enjoyed it, but it wasn't necessarily the same people at each program. A lot of people attended Animal Adventures (the R.O.U.S.) during school vacation (it was a rainy day). However, despite my inviting them to additional events, the others were not as well attended, especially considering all the people who say they love the movie. (Apparently it sells out every time the local movie theater shows it.)
One person said that the title was too girlish and boys wouldn't be interested in something called "The Princess Bride." I deliberately chose something that seemed to have wide appeal. To engage more people, I offered a raffle for people who participated in the trivia contest and made everything available online and in print. I am not quite sure what else to do, but everyone who participated enjoyed their part.
I feel good about the festival, but it has caused me to rethink future events. I don't want to do the same thing over and over (animal programs and music), but that's what people are interested in. The animal part of the festival was probably the biggest draw.
I continue to cultivate community engagement and partnerships with the organizations we worked with on OneClinton OneBook. However, in the future, I would prefer this to be more of a committee-run program, rather than me doing the book selection, event planning and sponsor seeking. I think people, groups and venues are happy to help when I ask, but I'd like more input from the town or library users to make the event more inclusive. I think next time, I will take book suggestions and ask people to vote.
Don't get discouraged. The whole concept of a community read is a great way to do some creative programming, and you may end up with more positive press (I got into a bigger newspaper than usual) for the library. It's a lot of work, but if you're planning programs anyway (and I do), just plan them around a theme.
About This Library
The Bigelow Free Public Library serves the town of Clinton, a municipality of just under 14,000. When it was built in 1902, this Carnegie building was impressive. The main floor features a Gaustavino vaulted ceiling and a copy of a Greek frieze. The library offers materials, programs and computer, time and what many of our patrons need is lunch.