At the heart of Ojai’s picturesque little community is an impressive and expansive bookstore called Bart’s. At the corner of Matilija and Canada streets stand rows upon rows of used and new novels, cookbooks, and biographies. They line countless carefully crafted outdoor shelves, take up rooms upon rooms in Bart’s maze-like interior, and are certain to delight the soul of any bibliophile (present company included).

It’s fitting then that the community housing the largest independently owned and operated bookstore in the nation would also play host to an event like WordFest. This Saturday, March 24, through Saturday, March 31, Ojai will celebrate its second annual ode to all things literary. With more than 100 events spanning over eight days, WordFest is brimming with activities for any and all forms of readers. Like mysteries? The Ojai Library will host a mystery writing panel discussion on Saturday, March 24, at 2 p.m. Interested in screenwriting? Acclaimed Hollywood writer/producer Catherine Ann Jones will talk shop on Tuesday, March 27. Poetry fanatic? Check out the celeb spoken-word and poetry jam on Saturday, March 31.

Throughout the week, WordFest will also offer book-signings, family-friendly activities, parties, workshops, readings, tutorials, and symposiums at locations across the city. And come closing night, Ojai resident and screenwriter Caroline Thompson will discuss her classic Edward Scissorhands directly after the film’s 22nd anniversary screening at the Ojai Playhouse.

Not surprisingly, WordFest was started as a way to pay homage to the authors and writers who have flocked to the Ojai Valley over the years, as well as a means of turning new writers on to its charming and inspiring atmosphere. For those of us who live so close, though, it’s simply an excuse to head over the hill and embrace the joys of reading. Bonus points for the storybook-like setting. For a full schedule of WordFest events and venue contact info, call 669-7373 or visit


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