On Saturday, October 29, 2023, Joseph-Beth Booksellers (161 Lexington Green Circle) in Lexington, Kentucky, will host the 41st Annual Kentucky Book Festival, featuring top literary talent, including Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver, John Meacham, and our own Chad Oldfather, author of A MAN WALKS INTO A BARN.
Those who have read Oldfather’s memoir about fathering horse-crazy daughters and shepherding them through the world of competitive equestrian sport will know that the trip to Kentucky will be a “homecoming” of sorts for the author. In his book, he wrote:
Here, undoubtedly, was a dream come true. An “A” show was one thing. An “A” show at the Kentucky Horse Park was something else entirely. This was a venue that only a couple years earlier had seemed impossibly distant, a place about which you say “maybe someday” in the sort of way where “but probably not” is unstated but understood. Cash got a new name as part of the preparation—Speed Thru Traffic transformed into the Cash-related Walk the Line. I brought the nice camera and documented all of it—the moment Ada first mounted Cash, the trip up the path to the Murphy Ring for their first ride, a ride in the double warm-up ring with Rolex Stadium looming in the background, a series of photos over a line of ornately decorated jumps in the Stonelea Ring. On one of the afternoons, I accompanied Ada as she and Cash walked around the cross-country course where a couple years earlier, she and I had watched some of the top eventing riders and horses in the world. They approached some of the more impressive obstacles just so Ada could see how they looked from the back of a horse. I’ve got photos of that, too.
“I’m staying at the Clarion Hotel near the Horse Park that we stayed at so many times over the years. The first time I was there was our trip to BreyerFest, when it was still a Holiday Inn and when it was the place to be for off-site Breyer buying,” says Oldfather about his trip south for the Book Festival. “I’ll certainly be thinking back to the last time I stayed there, which in the moment didn’t seem like it would be the last time at all.”
Oldfather is featured on a panel called “Writing Towards Compassion” at 3 pm on Saturday. He and several other authors will discuss how writing their books helped them better understand how to comprehend, learn, and employ compassion during challenging times.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” says Oldfather. “Kentucky plays such a large part in the horse world and in my book—as a dream that became a realistic aspiration, as the place where some dreams came true and others went unrealized, as the site of so much of what’s good and so much of what’s less good about the world of equestrian sports. And it was on a solo drive back home from Kentucky that I resolved to start doing the writing that ultimately led to A MAN WALKS INTO A BARN. I don’t expect to be hit with the same sort of life-altering revelation this time around. But I didn’t really expect it then, either.”
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.