Our History and Mission

The Mission 

Stimulate the Minds and Nurture the Souls of Readers

The Sonoma Valley Authors Festival is an annual 3-day weekend lecture series that brings people together to hear authors from a variety of literary genres. Speakers also discuss advances being made in science, technology, medicine, and current issues in a “TED-talk” style format. Main tent and breakout sessions are held. At a time when the art of listening seems to be disappearing, the need for civil discourse has never been greater. With so many voices vying for our attention, people are receptive to well-informed speakers and eager for thoughtful conversation and discussion of ideas. The Festival attracts people who are committed to lifelong learning; many are at a stage in life where experiences are of more value than things and they enjoy vacations with a purpose.

Enrich Students through Exposure to Great Authors and Leaders in Science, Technology, and Medicine

Equally important, a second goal is to inspire middle and high school students in the Sonoma Valley to read and make discoveries by providing them with the opportunity to meet and interact with some of today’s most extraordinary writers and thinkers. Copies of the presenting authors’ books are purchased with donations and distributed free to all 2,700 students. Each book has a bookplate where the students can write their own name and where the author signs it. In 2018, 5,000 books were given free to the students and in 2019, 3,800 books. Due to Covid-19, Students Day was limited. Students Day is planned for Friday, August 27, 2021.

Authors on the Historic Sonoma Plaza, a Free Event for the Sonoma Community

From the beginning, the Founders wanted to make the Festival authors and speakers as accessible to as many peo­ple as possible in the community, while maintaining the quality of the experience for everyone. 

On Saturday evening, May 4, 2019, Authors on the Plaza debuted at the historic Sonoma City Plaza. Thanks to generous underwriting by Cathy and Chuck Williamson, this free, family-oriented event proved to be an overwhelming success. 

Enjoying music by Philip Claypool and Carlos Reyes, over 500 people heard two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and best-selling author Roger McNamee give memorable presentations. Authors on the historic Sonoma Plaza is planned for Saturday, August 28, 2021,

The History

The inaugural Sonoma Valley Authors Festival was launched May 4, 2018. The audience of 550 people spent a 3-day weekend at The Lodge at the Renaissance Resort & Spa in Sonoma being informed and transformed by 35 authors and speakers, enjoying a wide range of topics, in a combination of “main tent” sessions with keynote speakers and choosing from a variety of “breakout” sessions.

Building upon the success of the first festival, the 2nd annual Authors Festival was held again at The Lodge on May 3-5, 2019, with a similar number of attendees, speakers, and format.

Due to Covid-19, the 3rd Annual Festival was held virtually from July 13-27, 2020 with 24 inspiring authors and speakers participating. We are pleased that 3,500 registered for the Virtual Festival with 11,500 views.

The 4th Annual Festival will be held at our new venue, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, August 27-29, 2021. Featuring a climate controlled Pavilion for main tent presentations, white tablecloth service for breakfast and lunch served on the lawn, a comfortable setting for the dinner honoring our sponsors, authors and speakers, the setting is reminiscent of Old California providing guests  with an experience to remember.