Sara Bullimore
Sara Bullimore

A self-confessed bookworm and book-shopping addict is in charge of this year’s Newark Book Festival, which gets under way next month.

Sara Bullimore, 42, was brought up reading books and has many happy memories of going to the former children’s library in Newark Market Place where she devoured everything in sight.

“I aim to read every day, even if it is just a chapter before I go to sleep,” she said.

“I love nothing better than trying to have a weekend off work and snuggling down with a good book.”

Sara, a freelance arts consultant, became the artistic director and project manager of the festival in February building on the strengths from two previous events run by Mr Paul Trickett.

The not-for-profit festival has been rebranded and will use nine venues across the town including the castle, the Town Hall, the library and Market Place as well as some of the town’s cafés.

Sara grew up in Newark and worked as a marketing assistant at the Palace Theatre for a short time after graduating with a BA (Hons) in creative arts.

She then worked in the dance sector before becoming the arts and cultural sector officer at Lincoln City Council for six years where she launched Lincoln Book Festival.

Over the years she has organised many festivals, including literary ones.

“It is almost second nature to me now,” she said.

“I always encourage new volunteers and those who wish to work in the industry to come along and learn on the job.”

The festival has the financial support of the Arts Council of England, Newark and Sherwood District Council and Newark Town Council, as well as local businesses including Tallents solicitors, Duncan & Toplis and The Turquoise Teapot.

“Everyone in Newark and surrounding area has been incredibly supportive and we have a fabulous first set of sponsors, supporters, funders and friends,” she said.

'We are hoping to attract a range of audiences'

Sara said she has been keen to grow the festival to involving more venues and businesses, and to increase the programme events to appeal to all ages and interests.

“I was particularly keen to link with Visit England’s Year Of Literary Heroes celebrations and to celebrate Nottinghamshire’s rich literary connections too,” she said.

“So we have ended up with a lovely natural theme of Heroes and Adventurers.”

There is a charge for some of the events featuring writers including international best-selling author Matt Haig, who grew up in Newark, and Natasha Pulley — the author of The Watchmaker Of Filigree — but there are also two main free zones.

The Literature Quarter in Newark Market Place will have stalls, pop-up storytelling and art activities, chalk art, Doctor Rhyme and street theatre.

The castle will have free arts activities inspired by books with face-painting, music, street theatre and storytelling.

“We are hoping to attract a range of audiences from book lovers to families and those who want to try something new,” Sara said.

“Over the years of organising festivals I have discovered so many new authors and books I love simply by taking the risk and attending an event.”

The festival is on July 15 and 16.

The full programme is available from its website the Newark book Festival website.