Former Resident and Author Kate Park to be Honored During May 1 Winnsboro Festival of Books

The Winnsboro Festival of Books set for May 1, 2021

The event to honor the late Kate Park

WINNSBORO — Winnsboro Center for the Arts will host its annual Festival of Books Saturday, May 1, on the future site of the WCA’s new Center for Performing Arts at 206 Market Street. This year’s event honors Winnsboro’s own Kate Park who died last July at age 40 after a brave battle with Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PCP), rare brain diseases.

The late Kate Park who was formerly of Winnsboro, Texas attended University of North Texas in 2002, earned a Masters of Art in English Literature at Goldsmith’s in London, and became an acclaimed author of English children’s books. During 2008 as Executive Director of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, her team successfully won funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring The Big Read to Dallas. Kate’s inspiration restored and created numerous new book-related events for the people of the Dallas community.

Before she fell ill, Park had dedicated her career to the arts and non-profit work, including a successful stint as executive director of The Friends of the Dallas Public Library, organizing AuthorSpeak and The Big Read, along with a Friends book festival in 2017. She was the daughter of Mike and Judy Park.

“This year’s festival is dedicated to Kate, who inspired our festival and helped us during organization,” said Mary White, arts center president. “She also prompted several of her author friends from Dallas to be on our first panel in 2018. Her friends and colleagues Michael Merschel, Nancy Churnin and Michael Granberry will be returning this year to pay tribute to
The festival opens at 9 a.m. with author book signings. All published authors are invited to reserve a table. Visit for a registration form. Space is available for $45. Also at 9am, students from Alter Dance will perform. At 9:30,Grammy award winner and Cajun music legend Jo-El Sonnier will perform a children’s concert, hold a story time and will be available to sign copies of his book, “There’s Something in the Swamp, and It’s for Dinner.”

A children’s literature panel led by Churnin, author of 10 non-fiction picture books and former theater critic for The Dallas Morning News, will begin at 10:45. Churnin says she will never forget the excitement that Kate Park brought to the very first festival and looks forward to honoring Kate’s memory at this one.
“At a time when we need the healing properties of books, and how they bring us together more than ever, The Winnsboro Book Festival serves a deep need not only in the Winnsboro community, but in the larger community of our collective hearts,” Churnin explained. “I am so proud to moderate a panel at this event which honors Kate’s spirit — her love for people and the books that help us understand, celebrate and support each other.”

Joining Churnin will be: Mary Brooke Casad, creator of Bluebonnet the Armadillo series; Rosie Pova, a multi-published, award-winning author and writing instructor, including the upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain; and Michael Steele, a former writer for Barney & Friends and Wishbone. Steele has also published more than 120 books for various characters and brands, including Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.

Author Michael Merschel, who spent 12 years as the book critic for The @ Morning News, will deliver the keynote address at 1 p.m. Merschel served on a panel at the first book festival and later spoke to students at MemorialMiddle School about his book, Revenge of the Star Survivors, which won the Texas Institute of Letters’ award for best middle-grade book in 2018.
Expect Merschel to be joined by a surprise guest who will talk about his upcoming book on the Dallas Cowboys. Merschel was delighted to be invited to honor his late friend.

“I would do just about anything to help celebrate Kate,” he said. “A lot of us were left with Kate-shaped holes in our hearts when she left us. She brought so much light and love into the world, and I am thrilled that Winnsboro is doing so much to keep that sparkling spirit alive.”

A mystery panel, led by Winnsboro’s own Melissa (Whitley) Lenhardt, will begin at 2 p.m. Joining Lenhardt will be: Harvey Hunsicker, former executive vice president of the Mystery Writers of America and author of eight books; Kathleen Kent, two-time Edgar Award nominee and New York Times bestselling author; and Reavis Wortham, a Paris native, author of The Red River series has won critical acclaim.

An installation at Kate Park Memorial Park, just south of the Gilbreath Memorial Library at 916 North Main Street, is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. following the mystery panel. Underwriting this year’s event are: Chip and Terry Mathews; The Bowery Book Club; The Mrs. A.D. Francis Endowment Fund administered by East Texas Communities Foundation on
behalf of Winnsboro Community Foundation; and The Texas Commission on the Arts.

Author: Enola Gay

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