Penguin Random House Book Fair turns 22, set for this weekend

The 22nd annual Penguin Random House Book Fair this weekend at Carroll Community College is more than just a chance for the community to purchase books at a discounted rate. The two-day event is packed with family-friendly events that hope to encourage reading and be part of a vibrant book culture in the community.

“It takes about 200 volunteers to make this event happen and we’re just so privileged each year to have Penguin Random House’s total support as well as faculty, students and staff at the college,” said Steve Wantz, executive director of institutional advancement and the College Foundation for the school.


The event, set for Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, is free and open to the public on the college campus, but some activities require tickets or wristbands.

Making his first appearance at a public event is the Lynx, the newly unveiled mascot of Carroll’s sports program. The Lynx was suggested by recent graduate Ryan Barron after a campus wide search to choose a representative for the college’s sports teams.

“We are thrilled the community will finally get to meet our newest and most spirited member of the College at the Fair. It will be an exciting day for everyone who attends,” said College President James Ball in a news release from the college.

The book fair opens Friday at 3 p.m., and book sales will be open until 7 p.m. They start back up Saturday at 9 a.m. and run until 4 p.m.

Guests can purchase Penguin Random House titles at 20 percent off the regular price. There are more than 5,000 tiles for adults and children that will be available.

“We have something for everyone,” said Judy Samuels, manager of in-house sales with Penguin Young Readers Group and DK Childrens.

Friday evening, there are two events, an author talk with novelist Jamie Ford for the adults at 7 p.m. and a family-friendly showing of the movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet” at 4:30 and 7 p.m.

Tickets to the movie are $3 per person, and it will be shown in the Theater in the Scott Center. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 410-386-8150 or in person.

“We chose that movie because there’s also a book behind that,” Wantz said. “We encourage the kids to enjoy the movie [and] see the difference between the way the book tells the story and the way the movie does.”

College volunteers are a big part of running the events. Early education students run the children’s craft area, which Wantz said is always popular, and the STEM Club runs the STEM activity area that usually appeals to children who are a little older. Many others, staff and students fill out the ranks that make the proverbial machine run.

At noon and 2 p.m., Saturday, the Carroll County Public Library will host children’s story time.

“We have been doing it as long as I can remember,” said Lisa Picker, director of communications for CCPL and a member of the planning committee for the fair. “The librarians are really good at gauging their audience and making the storytime activity benefit the audience that’s there.”

Throughout the day Saturday, there will be other action-filled family events including Book Talk with Penguin Random House illustrator Suzanne Kaufman at 9:45 a.m.; “En Garde!: Choreographing an Action Scene” workshop with author Laura Shovan at 11 a.m.; “Professor Wizard’s Wonders of Science Show” at 1 p.m.; and an “Improv for all Ages” workshop at 2:15 p.m. with an improv show to follow.

A silent auction, which started accepting bids Feb. 27, will be open until Saturday at 3 p.m. and can be found at: Two raffles, one for a smart-home bundle and one for a Nintendo Switch bundle will go on throughout the fair. Guests can also find information to purchase chances remotely through the event’s Facebook page.


Proceeds from the Penguin Random House Book Fair support the Carroll Community College Foundation, and Wantz said the weekend will result in about $60,000 fundraising.

“That number goes directly back into student scholarships,” he said. “Those funds help students who live right here in Carroll County.”

“There are story times, scavenger hunts, crafts and much, much more,” Samuels said. “This is a one of a kind family friendly event that is a Carroll County tradition. It’s a joy to see families join us year after year.”

The full schedule of the Book Fair is available at