The Kentucky Book Fair was the first literary celebration of its kind here in the Commonwealth. The event has a rich history of supporting Kentucky authors—both well-known names like bell hooks and Silas House along with up-and-comers who've published their first books—while seeking out additional national bestsellers and inviting them to visit Kentucky to speak about their work: authors like J.D. Vance, Sarah Smarsh, and many more. The Kentucky Book Fair was journalist Carl West’s brainchild, and a small volunteer committee helped to organize it for more than thirty-five years. Some members of the original volunteer committee assist in its planning even still.
Historically, the Kentucky Book Fair’s home was in Frankfort, but venue complications forced its move to Lexington two years ago, and its production transitioned to Kentucky Humanities (formerly Kentucky Humanities Council), where a small and mighty team of six managed to successfully transition the event to the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena. To further the event’s impact and the opportunity to highlight even more literary talent, the staff at Kentucky Humanities agreed to expand it into a week-long festival starting in 2018. With that change, Kentucky Book Fair became the anchor for the Kentucky Book Festival, whose many events take place at venues across Lexington.