After 17 years, the Bethesda Urban Partnership is scaling back the Bethesda Literary Festival.
Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) is ending the speaking events that featured authors, poets and journalists during the annual April festival and rebranding it as the Local Writer’s Showcase.
“We had a very successful run, but we have noticed a decline in attendance at author events over the years,” Stephanie Coppula, a spokeswoman for the partnership, said Friday.
The rebranded event on April 19 and 20 will instead focus on honoring the winners of the annual writing contests it holds in partnership with Bethesda Magazine.
On April 19, the winners of the poetry contest will read their works at Gallery B in Bethesda. On April 20, the essay and short-story contest winners will be featured at an event at the Bethesda Hyatt.
The adult short-story and essay contest winners receive $500 awards, young adult (14-17) winners receive $250 and the poetry contest winner receives $350.
Previously, the literary festival included more than a dozen authors, journalists and poets reading their works and meeting with readers at events throughout downtown Bethesda.
The event has a budget that ranged from $20,000 to $30,000, according to Coppula. She said now that the event is being scaled back, some of that money will be repurposed to host pop-up and other smaller gatherings around Bethesda.
She said the partnership’s new pop-up Yappy Hour with Montgomery Parks was a success and BUP plans to organize similar events. The Yappy Hour at Elm Street Park in Chevy Chase on Oct. 26 allowed residents to bring their dogs to a temporary dog park and included live music, as well as food from Bethesda restaurants, beer and wine.
Great music too. Town of Chevy Chase, East Bethesda, downtowners and all nearby, come to Elm Street Park! Yappy Hour. pic.twitter.com/BOf2PLwEiC
— TOCC MMF (@chevychase_mmf) October 26, 2017
Coppula also said some money from the literary festival would be redirected to the Bethesda Film Fest to provide additional prize money for the winners.
Over the past five years, attendance declined at the literary festival, Coppula said. She wasn’t sure why, but noted there are more literary festivals happening around the region. The mid-April schedule for the event also might have reduced attendance.
“Sometimes, we just have really good weather weekends and people didn’t want to meet authors indoors,” Coppula said.