The Annual Gold Rush Book Fair
By Karen Wright
The 8th Annual Gold Rush Book Fair was a cool place to be on a hot summer's day in the Gold Country. The best thing about having the fair in Grass Valley, California, is that it is only two hours from our store in Virginia City, Nevada. With gas prices what they are, any way we can save gas in the truck is appreciated. We had the monster Suburban loaded down with bookshelves and eighteen boxes of the best of our books. This was our first serious book fair and we were really excited.
Evidently, forty-nine other book dealers thought it was a great idea as well, as that is how many participated. The dealers, their entourages and friends, and the general public strolled the aisles of the rustic, high-ceilinged Nevada County Fairgrounds looking for great book bargains, and many, we included, found them.
On advice from another bookseller friend, we stayed at a great little motel near the golf course called The Alta Sierra. It has a couple of drawbacks in that it was about 15 miles from the fairgrounds up in the hills and took 20 minutes or so to get to. That meant that we had to drive the gas-guzzling truck an extra sixty miles twice to get to and from our room, but it was really quiet, the view was lovely, and had a nice little porch on the back where one could sit and watch the abundant wildlife; deer, Canadian geese, dogs, kitties, and bunnies. They also accepted pets and were very helpful, even to loaning me a card table when I discovered I'd forgotten mine. They were also quite reasonably priced and hospitable.
Both Nevada City and Grass Valley have wonderfully restored and reused downtowns. Oh, they have the occasional tacky T-shirt stores that every tourist-oriented town has, but mostly they have really nice, high quality shopping, some good restaurants, and lots and lots of bookstores. In fact, Grass Valley has a great book cooperative called Booktown Books & Tomes, and many of their booksellers participated. The Nevada City and Grass Valley area is now officially designated as "The Gold Cities Book Town." This designation came from the originator of the Book Town concept, Richard Boof from Hay-On-Wye in the U.K.
The evening before the fair there was a welcoming get together for participants at Toad Hall Books in Nevada City. Toad Hall, owned by Gary and Clarinda Stollery, was not a seller this year at the Gold Rush Fair, but they graciously sponsored the cocktail party. They have a really interesting conglomeration of books; mostly antiquarian and collectible children's books, books about Scotland and Scottish ways, and high quality general literature, as well as some nifty vintage cookbooks.
After the cocktail party, booksellers traipsed upstairs to the historic Masonic Temple for a deliciously prepared Italian wine dinner by Summer Thyme, a nice little restaurant in Grass Valley. We sat across from and chatted with Tom and Marilyn Tubbs who have Main Street Antiques and Books in Nevada City. John and Susan Hardy of Hardy Books in Nevada City, Grass Valley’s next door neighbor, are both on the Gold Rush Book Fair Advisory Council, and produced the show. I was happy to see a few young book dealers in the crowd instead of just us old fogies.