This year’s Katz JCC’s Arts Books and Culture Festival may have the most jam-packed lineup in its 26-year history.
Multiple television personalities, including former NBC “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory, ABC News reporter Ted Koppel, actor Alan Alda and his wife Arlene and comedian and actress Susie Essman are just some of the highlights. The festival will run from Saturday, Nov. 7 through Sunday, Nov. 15.
Katz JCC Cultural Director Sabrina Spector said this year’s lineup has greatly increased interest in this year’s festival.
“This is far beyond any other ticket sales we’ve had in the last 10 years,” Spector said. “It’s one of the strongest lineups we’ve ever had.”
The amount of interest in some of the events has led to schedule changes. The Aldas will be visiting Cherry Hill to discuss their book, “Just Kids From the Bronx.” The discussion, scheduled for Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., has been moved to Temple Beth Sholom due to the large demand for tickets.
“Their fans are just coming out of the woodwork,” Spector said. “They already have a huge crowd.”
Spector said this year’s packed lineup was due to so many authors coming out with books and wanting to make Cherry Hill a stop on their tour.
“This year, so many people just wanted their story to be told,” Spector said.
This year’s festival includes 21 author discussions featuring authors from all walks of life. While a number of the presentations include well-known personalities, Spector said there will plenty of up-and-coming authors who residents should check out.
“When you hear them speak or read their books, you’ll understand why they’re going to be hit authors of tomorrow,” Spector said.
The festival is more than just books and authors. Kids in grades one to five were encouraged to enter a writing contests where they wrote a fiction, non-fiction or poetry work talking about good deeds. All submissions will be on display at the Katz JCC throughout the festival.
This year will be the second time the Katz JCC honors teens from the area with the Justin Matthew Wolfe Teen Leadership Award. The award is given to three Jewish high school students from Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties who display the characteristics of being a leader and volunteer their time to serve the local community.
The award is named after Justin Wolfe, an Eastern Regional High School graduate who passed away in 2012 from substance abuse.
After presenting the awards for the first time last year, Spector expects it to become an annual part of the festival.
“We really want to recognize those teens that have gone above and beyond,” Spector said.
The festival also includes a free reception for the Appel art gallery, where numerous artists display their work for the public. This year’s reception is scheduled for Nov. 11 at 6 p.m.
Ticket prices for each event range from free to $35. Katz JCC members can purchase tickets for a small discount. The events with Essman and Erica Jong are sold out, but tickets for all of the other events are still available. To view the festival’s complete lineup or to purchase tickets, visit www.katzjcc.org/abcfest.