Daytona Beach sponsored book festival promotes literacy

DAYTONA BEACH – Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a published author interested in meeting other writers, be sure to bookmark the 11th Annual FRESH Book Festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday.

The FRESH festival, which stands for Fiction, Romance, Erotica, Spiritual and Health, will kick off this year with a screening Thursday of Lamont Gant and Marlon McCaulsky’s sci-fi thriller “Returned” as part of the Community Film Festival at Peabody Auditorium, located at 600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach. The screening starts at 7 p.m.

The festival continues Friday and Saturday at the Midtown Cultural & Education Center in Daytona Beach at 925 George W. Engram Blvd., with informative sessions, interviews, and opportunities for attendees to engage with the authors.

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Festival opening hours on Friday will be noon to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The general admission cost for the Thursday feature film is $ 10. Friday and Saturday sessions are $ 10 per day for general admission, $ 5 for seniors and free for students with a valid student ID

The festival offers better representation

Donna M. Gray-Banks founded the festival in 2011 after noticing the need for greater representation of minorities and self-published freelance writers in the publishing industry.

“We started with 12 authors, now we’re 35 strong and internationally known in Grade 11,” Gray-Banks said. “For melancholy people, it was difficult to find a book festival that would encourage our sales and marketing. So I thought what better way to start a festival so that literacy can be celebrated. “

There will be 30 authors attending the festival this year, including local authors Stephanie Pasley-Henry, Hubert Grimes and Felicia Benzo.

Big participation expected

Although the event took place virtually last year due to the pandemic, Gray-Banks is hoping for a large turnout for this year’s event.

“We hope to attract 500 to 1,000 people,” she said.

Gray-Banks is not only the founder of the festival, she is also the author of an erotic suspense trilogy “Ila’s Diamonds” and is currently working on her fourth novel “The House That Jack Built”.

The Palm Coast resident is also the Executive Director of the Midtown Community Development Corporation in Daytona Beach.

“More than I could have imagined”

Angie Bee, media producer and author, said she and her husband Bartee support the festival and what it stands for.

Festival founder Donna M. Gray-Banks started in 2011 after noticing a need for more representation in the publishing industry.

“I’ve been working with Donna since 2014, creating flyers, helping to promote the event and introduce the authors to the event,” Bee said. “Every year we interview the author on camera, sometimes we’re the first media interview that one of them has. We provide them with these videos so that they can have something to promote their books.

Bee said the festival is a great way to meet other writers.

“My first participation in the festival was more than I could have imagined,” she said. “There were so many genres. I got autographs and photos of them. It was so cool.

For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit

James C. Tibbs