Posted: June 11, 2018
By Bo Emerson
The AJC Decatur Book Festival announced Monday that Atlanta theater legend Kenny Leon will serve as the keynote speaker during the kickoff ceremonies for the festival this Labor Day weekend.
The Tony Award-winning Leon, former artistic director of the Alliance Theatre, will speak at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. He is the author of a new memoir, “Take You Wherever You Go.”
Leon will speak at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
Leon’s Broadway credits include the 2014 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” starring Denzel Washington and the premiere of “Holler if You Hear Me,” a musical created using the music of Tupac Shakur.
He is currently serving as the Denzel Washington Chair at Fordham University and as the artistic director of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre in Atlanta.
The keynote speech is free and open to the public, but requires a ticket. The distribution of free tickets will be announced later.
This is the festival’s 13th year. Held every Labor Day weekend, the festival this year will bring more than 300 well-known authors and illustrators and tens of thousands of readers together for three days of events.
Among the authors who will be featured are:
- Journalist Beth Macy, and her account “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” which charts the opioid crisis in America.
- Novelist Karin Slaughter, and her crime thriller “Pieces of Her.”
For more information: decaturbookfestival.com
RELATED: Atlanta festivals calendar from AJC
RELATED: Things to do this weekend in Atlanta
Age is just a state of mind at the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
At 13 years old, the annual Labor Day weekend event already is the largest independent book festival in the country. With 430 authors taking part this year, there’s something guaranteed to appeal to every one of the expected 80,000 attendees.
Still, youngsters of all ages might want to check out a couple of alleged kids’ events that help bookend Sunday’s closing day lineup. We’ve highlighted some other author appearances on the crowded schedule as well (see decaturbookfestival.com for a complete listing of author appearances).
“Calling All Jedis!” Adam Rex leads a parade to the Children’s Stage, followed by a session devoted to his hilarious new picture book (“Are You Scared, Darth Vader?”). Parade starts at 11:45 a.m. at the Community Bandstand. Author session at noon at Children’s Stage at Decatur Recreation Center.
“Logical Family: A Conversation With Armistead Maupin.” The best-selling novelist, including the colorfully captivating “Tales of the City” series, has finally written a memoir covering his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco and his search for a “logical family” of people to call his own. 1:15 p.m., First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary.
“A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools.” Historian Rachel Devlin illuminates the brave young black women who were at the vanguard of the struggle to desegregate America’s schools. 2:30 p.m., Historic DeKalb Courthouse.
“Atticus Finch — The Biography.” Emory University historian Joseph Crespino examines how Harper Lee’s real-life father provided key inspiration for her books — and their complex presentations of the fictional father/lawyer character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman.” 3:45 p.m., Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary.
“Here Say: Speaking as Performance.” Four top writers and storytellers have a “lively conversation” on the power of words and stories on the page, on stage and beyond. 5 p.m., Decatur Library.
Harry and the Potters in concert. The festival closes out with this free performance by the “first Wizard Rock band.” 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), Children’s Stage at Decatur Recreation Center.
Charles Frazier will appear at the AJC tent to sign books at noon.
AJC Decatur Book Festival
Author presentations begin at noon Sunday (street festival noon-6 p.m.). Free. Various venues, downtown Decatur. See DBF Festival Map for parking locations, take MARTA to the Decatur station or use the free bike valet on North McDonough Street, in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse. decaturbookfestival.com.
While it's no longer true that everyone who works hard for a living gets Labor Day weekend off, one thing about the end of summer holiday has remained the same: Atlanta can't be outdone for Labor Day entertainment options.
Of course, they're not "one size fits all." So peruse this list carefully to determine which of the end-of-summer bounty you'd enjoy the most come this Labor Day weekend in Atlanta.
For the planners
These Labor Day fetes are not just geared to the plan-aheaders because some of these events are drop-in oriented, but they are for those who can use work skills on their day off to plan transpo, tickets and such. These Labor Day festivals and events will be worth the time spent as the group date or family outing personal planner:
Dragon Con: Aug. 30-Sept. 3 (Downtown) Get your nerd on all weekend long at the largest sci-fi/fantasy convention. It's full of games, panel discussions, fan events and celebrity meet-and-greets with Hyatt Regency Atlanta as the center. Keep in mind that planning is a definite necessity since parking is limited and zaniness abounds. MARTA, take the wheel. AJC guide to Dragon Con
AJC Decatur Book Festival: Aug. 31-Sept. 2
Going on 13 years, the festival in downtown Decatur Square is held every Labor Day weekend and this year will bring more than 300 well-known authors and illustrators and tens of thousands of readers together for three days. Atlanta theater legend Kenny Leon will serve as the keynote speaker during the kickoff ceremonies at 8 p.m. Friday.
LudaDay Weekend: Aug. 31-Sept. 3
Since 2005, rapper, actor and humanitarian Christopher "Ludacris" Bridges has turned Labor Day weekend over to social service and responsibility, bringing together the Atlanta community and Luda's celebrity colleagues in the process. Money raised over the weekend will go towards The Ludacris Foundation and other charities benefiting children. Events within the event include such fun stuff as a Celebrity Bowling Challenge and TopGolf Takeover.
Atlanta Black Pride Weekend: Aug. 29-Sept. 4
Show your pride, your allyship and revel in the entertainment at one of the largest Black Gay Pride events in the world. Events take place all over the city, including symposium, seminars and social events. Don't miss Piedmont Park's Pure Heat Community Festival from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2 , entertainment and signature events.
You say you just want to enjoy Labor Day, and never mind the theme?
Atlanta's got plenty going on Labor Day weekend for that crowd, too. Try any of these:
Dragon Con parade: Sept. 1
Get in on the fabulous energy of Dragon Con without having to buy tickets or don a costume. Throngs of fans, families and the curious abide along nearly a mile of Peachtree Street for the ultimate in people watching. Just keep in mind that if you want to see lots, you gotta get there early. And MARTA is highly recommended.
2018 National Puppet Slam: Aug. 31-Sept. 2
A fine offering from the Atlanta treasure, the Center for Puppetry Arts, the slam just happens to fall on the Saturday of Labor Day. Catch humorous, stunning and ingenious short-form puppetry from puppet artists across the nation. Note, though, this is an 18-plus performance and the museum's Beer and Wine Bar opens one hour before show time.
Not exactly Labor Day-themed, but one of Atlanta's most enjoyable festivals, TOSA, is free for all the city to enjoy. Part music, part family-friendly celebration of soul and Southern food, this year's festival is headlined by Kelly Price & PJ Morton.
College football already? Enjoy being there at the start when the season kicks off with the Auburn Tigers vs. the Washington Huskies at 3:30 on Saturday.
Bye bye summer, we hate to see you go.
Truth is, by the first weekend in September, some of us are ready to move along to sweater weather and pumpkin spice. But if you want to bid a fond farewell to the summer (even though the heat's gonna linger, let's be honest) or savor the heat and summer traditions that you may not have gotten to this year, try these Labor Day unofficial end-of-summer activities:
A nostalgic, even romantic way to bid adieu to summer, the festival goes all out with a Friday Night Balloon Glow, tethered balloon rides, live music and beach activities.
Stone Mountain Park Labor Day Weekend: Sept. 1-Sept.3
Live it up for the last bit of summer. Pack up the fam, grab your PBJs or an artisanal picnic basket and don't forget the lawn chairs. Then set off for Stone Mountain for a weekend of rock climbing, hiking and other fun in the sun. Once everyone is worn out, cozy up for the Labor Day version of Stone Mountain's mountainside laser show, followed by a special fireworks display. Should you desire to plunge even further into the wild to say goodbye to summer, check out the many options available Labor Day weekend at Georgia State Parks, which range from rustic camping to historical re-enactment.
For those who will be joining us late...
Some Atlanta working folk are going to wake up Labor Day Monday and realize they haven't done a single thing to make the three-day weekend Labor Day-ish, not even wear a red, white and blue T-shirt for a few hours. But it's not too late! You can still catch a quick meal that says you grilled out or gathered with friends when you didn't.
A few of the places that fit the bill and are open Labor Day Monday include:
Pittypat's Porch, at the ready with a peach margarita and a plate of fried chicken.
Shake Shack in Buckhead, serving up its inimitable "Shack-cago Dog," recommended being consumed with a side of cheese fries since you have until tomorrow to digest.
Bantam + Biddy will serve you breakfast any time that day, very Southern, yes, we mean gravy. So it's not traditional Labor Day fare; maybe you start your own tradition.
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