First time at the Miami Dade Book Fair

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This year I noticed Naomi Klein was speaking about her new book The Shock Doctrine. I had read her earlier book, No Logo and loved it,” responds Patrick Rafferty, 30, after being asked his initial reason for attending the 25th Annual Miami Dade book fair.

“To buy tickets you have to line up [to the left], if you are a student or a volunteer you need to line up [to the right],” yells the Miami Dade Book fair ticket coordinator. It’s 1:15 pm on a humid Miami day.

“I can’t believe they are charging this year,” says an onlooker referring to the $5 charge implemented this year at the fair. However, this is a minor obstacle for people who want to experience this annual cultural festival.

The 30 year-old has been living in Miami for three years and has wanted to attend the fair, but something always came up.

After hearing tickets were out for Klein’s reading, Rafferty thought about not coming to the fair. However, “a friend showed up at my door and reminded me of the book fair, at first I was going to skip it again but then I said why not just go,” said the first timer.

Once inside the fair, the streets were filled with people looking at the stands and some offering some free literature.

“Learn the truth about the Islam culture,” states a man with a pamphlet as he walks by.

The southwest side has a woman selling her spiritual books though it seems her pictures are that of a digicam and laminate posters. All State insurance has the roulette wheel giving out free gifts, channel 23’s Hispanic news has news anchor Guillermo Benitez signing autographs, and Miami Dade County has a plant sale stand.

As Rafferty makes his way out of the world tent section he is surprised by the comic book side tent. “Oddly, I imagined [comic books] would have their own fair, but they are in large numbers,” referring the number of people in the large comic book tent.

Past the comic book tent there’s a street performance, a man dressed in flesh colored spandex with what looks like skin abrasions and chains goes around acting like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings.

“Haha! My master is an imbecile,” states the character as he walks through the crowd. “I didn’t expect to see street performers,” says Rafferty, further stating “weird, but entertaining.”

Rafferty then gets a call from his friend Orestes Jimenez, 32, who just got the fair. Once we meet up with Jimenez, the 32 year-old states he has attended the fair the last four years. Though he confesses he mostly comes for the atmosphere rather than the books.

As they continue, Rafferty stops at the University Press of Florida. “I had a professor published by them when I was in college.” They spend a couple of minutes looking through the published works and continue to walk.

Two Jehovah’s witnesses happen to walk in front and Jimenez reminisces of his days as a Jehovah’s Witness. “I don’t know what I was doing. I was searching for this spiritual enlightenment,” states the 32 year-old who has also tried the Mormon religion, and Christianity.

Walking through the people Rafferty notices the stand for Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine and buys a copy of the book, “I just love her writing,” he says with a smile on his face. He also buys the book Autobiography of a Yogi, which deals with the life of a guru who is a direct disciple of Yoganonda.

As the 30 and 32 year-olds walked through the fair, they mostly looked at the signs on top of the tents. However, nothing really stood out after the purchase of the two books.

Rafferty revealed that he “liked that [the fair] had niche with genres like comics, Spanish language, yoga… I was overly impressed with the International area. I thought it was great that other cultures were represented.”

Though he expected the fair to be larger and have a theme he still enjoyed himself. “It was a wonderful fall Miami day. The fair setting had the tall buildings, the blue sky, and people generally happy. It seemed to be an older crowd so it wasn’t overrun with teenagers and young adults. The booth attendants were all great to talk to and it was a great afternoon with friends. A great place to just hang out, talk and enjoy the day,” said Rafferty as he walked out of the book fair.

Will he come next year? “Yes, but to see lectures.”



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