Kids in a candy store

Farm Forum

My early school days were spent at Roosevelt Elementary School. It was the newest school in Watertown and we kids loved its shiny corridors, new desks, and spacious gym floor. But although the school was bright and shiny and a wonderful place to learn, our favorite part of school was sneaking off to the neighborhood grocery store located across the street from the school playground.

If our parents and teachers only knew how often we slipped away during recess to drool at this little store’s tantalizing candy counter. I remember sneaking some coins to purchase penny candy and the bubble gum baseball cards. Mickey Mantle was my favorite. Those were the good old days, where the candy drew us like magnets and we did everything in our power to get to the little store. We couldn’t help ourselves.

I was reminded recently of that same magnetic power of a desired object. Like kids in a candy store, I observed many adults drooling over and purchasing the tantalizing merchandise. They simply couldn’t help themselves. And the story goes like this…

2014 South Dakota Festival of Books

Sometimes ya just have to do something for yourself! So, I did. I took a mini-vacation to Sioux Falls with one of my teacher friends. No, I didn’t go to Sioux Falls for a shopping spree. Instead, I went to Sioux Falls to be an exhibitor at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books. What a grand event this turned out to be!

After setting up my display on Friday morning in the Exhibitors’ Hall of the Holiday Inn City Centre, there wasn’t a moment to spare before the masses invaded. Events in this area were scheduled to begin at 2:00, but they started way, way before that. John Q. Public wanted to buy books, compare books, and in short –talk books, and so that’s what happened.

The Scene

The scene that Friday morning was like watching a bunch of excited young kids who just couldn’t wait to enter the candy store and purchase their favorite type of candy. It went something like this.

The kids (visitors) entered the room with a bit of momentary trepidation. They stopped for just an instant waiting for someone to shoo them out of the room. No one came, so they took their time and carefully surveyed the entire room. Then like a bolt of lightning hitting their countenances, their mouths dropped, their eyes flashed and their bodies leaned rigidly forward as they spotted their desired author. The charge was on for the candy—oops—books.

This scenario played over and over again for two full days. Let me tell you it was one of the best times that I have ever had meeting new people, talking books, listening to others, and feeling as though I was with my own kind. The written word in the form of books—what a joy!

Well, the joy of the written word was not only enjoyed by the visitors, but also by yours truly. Each day, I perused the booksellers and the exhibitors and try as I might not to do it, I found myself with another armload of books. I couldn’t help myself. I was just like that former young kid in a candy store.

The Actors of the show

The actors in this production were, without exception, of the highest caliber. This annual event, presented by the South Dakota Humanities Council, always encompasses many generous sponsors and volunteers. All of these entities working together generate a most prestigious roster of actors. Whether one is a presenter, an exhibitor, a sponsor, a volunteer, a bookseller, an organization, a publisher or a visitor, every actor plays a vital role for the success of the show.

This year the roster was aglow with authors of great renown. I was in awe of them and personally had the honor to visit with a few. They graciously signed their books for me and one or two of them consented to a duo photo shoot. Oh, my. Be still my heart.

I also met some inspiring South Dakota exhibitors who like me have self-published and enjoy writing about our state and its people. I will save my adventures with these people for another time. Let me say, however, a sincere thank you to each of these fellow South Dakota writers for their support and also to all of those interested people who stopped for a chat at my booth this year.


2007 was the first time that I ever was an exhibitor at the Festival of Books. In 2012, I was one of the reader/ presenters at the event’s unveiling of the book “What Makes a South Dakotan? “And now in 2014, I was privileged to be an exhibitor with my third published book “Plain Jane’s Misadventures III – Taking it Easy.” Each time something new and exciting has occurred at the festival which has drawn me back like a kid to a candy store.

Next year, the South Dakota Festival of Books will take place in the Old West town of Deadwood. This location is certainly a drawing card in its own right, but I wonder what flavor of candy (authors) will entice us for next year’s saga. No doubt, the roster of authors and books will again be outstanding. And with my bookish sweet tooth, I will just have to be there. See you at the 2015 Candy Store.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: