Since the printing of the first Gutenberg Bible in 1452, more than just the elite and church leaders have had the incredible experience of holding the written word in their hands and turning pages to discover new adventures and knowledge. Books have been the foundation for education and entertainment for several hundred years. As such, it’s a fair assumption that book fairs are probably almost as old. One such Oklahoma book fair has been in existence for 60 years. Holland Hall Episcopal School in Tulsa has been hosting its annual book fair since 1960. It is currently the largest youth book fair in the state.
The book fair is a fundraiser for the school, but also so much more, according to co-chair Erin Redfearn. The book fair encourages people throughout the year to donate, books, toys, games, music, and media which is then sold at discounted prices to the public at their annual book fair. It’s a win for both the school and the public, not to mention that it allows for unwanted items to bring further value to others who purchase them and not simply discarded in a wastebasket. Redfearn says that for the past three years anywhere from 1,700 to 3,000 people have attended the one-day event in search of quality discounted treasures of knowledge and entertainment. This doesn’t include children whose admittance is free.
“We don’t want people to just get rid of their books. We want them to end up in the hands of others who can enjoy them,” Redfearn said. The donation drives have become so successful that Holland Hall brings in much more than it can sell. This offers them the opportunity to give back to local charities such as Pencil Box, an organization that strives to provide Tulsa County students with much-needed school supplies and books. The organizers help various other local charities with surplus donations as well.
Redfearn and her co-chair Kristin Lees work with many other volunteers throughout the year collecting, sorting, pricing and organizing the event, which will be held Saturday, February 29. The event runs from 8 am to 3 pm and is being held at the Holland Hall Primary School gym with over 100 volunteers working the event in different capacities.
Unfortunately, this will be the last year for the book fair. Redfearn explained that the rising interest in digital media indicates a downward trend in people’s interest in obtaining actual books. The organizers feel that with this trend and the milestone of 60 years, it’s a good time to end on a high note.
“We are currently looking for other meaningful ways to impact Holland Hall and the local communities and are excited to see what those ways are. We want to stay committed to helping the community and channeling our energies in different ways,” Redfearn said. She added that the last half-hour of the book fair will be comprised of a bag sale. Those interested will be given a paper bag and everything they can shove in that bag will only cost $10. After the book fair, the remaining books and other items will be donated to the various charities with whom Holland Hall works.
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book,”. Perhaps we take this quote a page further and add that there is no lover of books as loyal as one who passes one on to another. Holland Hall has certainly passed on many great books over the past 60 years. It surely is a bit sad that technology is slowly taking the experience of holding a good book in our hands and ending such wonderful events as book fairs. But as this chapter in history draws to a close, it must be of great joy to the spirit of Johannes Gutenberg that the written word he so desperately wanted to share through ink and paper with all the world has been done so often and so well for 570 years.