Tehee: Dinner in the Library isn't your typical night out

September 25, 2013 

As fundraisers go, the annual Dinner in the Library gets high marks on my index of cool.

Sure, the event has elements of your typical fundraiser dinner — the round tables and catered food, the wine and silent auction, the low-key jazz music. But it's hosted at the county's central library by a who's-who of Fresno newsmakers.

So you're surrounded by a room full of books and the most interesting people in town.

I could think of worse ways to spend an evening.

Started by the late Fresno County Librarian John Kallenberg and organized by the Friends of the Fresno County Public Library, the event was envisioned as "a magical sort of dinner party, where the guests are all intelligent, thoughtful, well spoken and brimming with creative notions about books and people."

The dinner has been held annually for 24 years. This year's event is Oct. 20.

In one way, it is designed as an intimate gathering. Guests sit at tables of 10, where the night's hosts engage them in thoughtful discussions about art, food, literature, politics and culture.

For instance, this year's table hosts include Arthur Dyson, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright and designed the brand new Selma Arts Center. He'll be talking about the poetics of architecture. Rock-star farmer and author Nikiko Masumoto will talk about her Valley roots and share some kitchen stories (and I'd hope a recipe or two). James Tyner will tell the story of becoming Fresno's first Poet Laureate.

The Bee's Donald Munro and Bill McEwen will host tables. And in full disclosure, so will I.

I'll be throwing a local-music listening party, sharing stories (and songs) from my favorite local bands. I'll expect guests to share theirs, too.

This won't be some stuffy sit-down affair.

Bryan Harley and Roque Rodriguez — who became viral stars with their low-budget remakes of blockbuster movies trailers — will talk about filmmaking in Fresno. They'll also talk about their upcoming Swede Fest film festival, no doubt.

Local talk show host (and Fresno's best-known pseudo-celebrity) Chuck Leonard will tell you why Fresno isn't boring. Here's a hint: It's you.

Devoya Mayo, a local poet, promoter, crafter and DIY professional will look at Pinterest and the rise of do-it-yourselfers. Mayo was responsible for the popular Fresno Handmade Bazaar and is one heck of a conversationalist. If I weren't hosting a table, this is where I'd sit.

Now for the boring stuff: Tickets for the dinner are $75 for Friends of the Library members, or $90 before Oct. 4. After that all tickets are $100, through Oct. 10.

Plus, you'll be supporting the Fresno County Library system, which even after the passage of Measure B, depends on community support for programs within its 34 branches. You can find out more information by calling (559) 486-0866 or logging on to the Friends of the County website at fresnocountylibraryfriends.org

If you go

Friends of the Fresno County Public Library's 24th Annual Dinner in the Library, 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Fresno County Public Library, downtown Fresno. Tickets are $75 for Friends of the Library members or $90 before Oct. 4. After that, all tickets are $100 through Oct. 10.

This columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @Joshuatehee on Twitter and Instagram. Read his blog at Fresnobeehive.com

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