Great festivals of the arts are often large, loose, baggy monsters, as Henry James said of War and Peace. I know this because I've seen plenty of them up close and personal, as participant, attendee, or resident of the city of Austin, Texas.
Every year about this time, we in the National Capital Area experience our annual glut of book festivals. It's an embarrassment of riches. For those who are book crazy, this -- and not Christmas -- is the most wonderful time of the year.
Most literary festivals are placid affairs in which writers exchange ideas and autographs and occasionally get tanked. But these two festivals were overshadowed by the political contexts in which they occurred.