Carl Bernstein headlines free Books in Bloom festival in Columbia

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Books in Bloom Festival (Part 1)

Calling all readers! The Books in Bloom festival returns to Columbia, Maryland on Sunday.

The free festival hits Color Burst Park, in the Merriweather District, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Festival organizer Vanessa Rodriguez said it’s the sixth year for the festival, and “we are thrilled at how it’s grown. We’ve had some major authors that have been part of the Books in Bloom festival since its inception — and this year is no different.”

This year welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Carl Bernstein, the D.C. native who broke the Watergate scandal (which turns 50 years old this summer). He’ll be discussing his new memoir “Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom.”

“It’s really talking about the beginnings of a young journalist in Washington D.C.,” Rodriguez said, adding that the book is full of stories about the Kennedy era and the Civil Rights Movement.

Bernstein is just the latest celebrity author to headline the festival in recent years.

In 2017, the festival featured the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; 2019 featured activist and celebrity chef Jose Andres; 2020 brought Robin DiAngelo, of “White Fragility” fame, and last year headlined Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and creator of the 1619 Project, and Jake Tapper from CNN.

This year’s festival will also feature a tent discussing the danger of banning books.

“There are lots of discussions about censorship and removing certain books from children’s education and in general,” Rodriguez said, “[and] it was our responsibility to utilize that particular topic in this platform to be able to shed light about what is happening in our country.”

The idea of a free-thinking society plays into Columbia’s very founding.

“Columbia was started over 50 years ago by a gentleman named Jim Rouse,” Rodriguez said. “Rouse was really about creating a progressive community and a new way of living downtown. Columbia became an incredible suburb.”

She added, “He wanted to create a garden for the growing of people. … We are building upon that with a progressive place to grow people and ideas.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Books in Bloom Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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