The first-ever YA-hoo Fest: Chattanooga’s Celebration of Young Adult and Middle Grades Literature took place September 29 at Chattanooga State Community College in southeast Tennessee. A partnership between the Southern Lit Alliance, Chattanooga’s oldest nonprofit literary arts advocacy organization, and Chattanooga State’s Writers@Work program, the festival brought together more than 300 book lovers and—with the help of YA author Jeff Zentner—more than 30 authors for a day of panels, readings, signings, music, and more. We’ve gathered a selection of highlights from the inaugural event.

A group of participating authors getting ready for a day of sessions: (from l.) Riley Redgate (Final Draft); Emily Henry (A Million Junes); Brittany Cavallaro (the Charlotte Holmes series); Jeff Zentner (Rayne Delilah’s Midnight Matinee); Randy Ribay (After the Shot Drops); Brendan Kiely (Tradition); Eric Smith (The Girl and the Grove); Liara Tamani (Calling My Name); Jay Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here); Brooks Benjamin (My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights); Lurlene McDaniel (Somebody’s Baby); Scott Reintgen (Nyxia Unleashed); and Marjory Wentworth (Out of Wonder).

On the Friday before the festival, 16 YA-hoo authors visited 18 local middle and high schools. Jessica Burkhart, editor of the anthology Life Inside My Mind, discussed mental health issues with Hixson High School students.

Marie Marquardt (Flight Season) visited students at Ooltewah Middle School.

Geanna Culbertson (the Crisanta Knight series) with middle school fans at Boyd Buchanan School.

Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to attend nearly 30 panels, including a series of discussions on the craft of writing. Here, authors (from l.) S.F. Henson (Devils Within); Randi Pink (Into White); Laura Silverman (You Asked for Perfect); and Vince Vawter (Copyboy) speak about their work.

Members of the YA-hoo planning committee (from l.), Joel Henderson, Erica Lux, Mindy Griffin, Mollee Shannon, and Buck Weiss.

During the lunch break, festivalgoers enjoyed food trucks and live music from local favorite Drakeford.

Vendors such as Learning Express offered a variety of merchandise.

YA lovers faced difficult decisions when selecting sessions to attend.

Star Line Books, Chattanooga’s only independent bookstore, was the official bookseller for the event.

Harry Potter cosplayers.

Selfie time with authors (from l.) Nic Stone (Odd One Out), Tiffany Jackson (Monday’s Not Coming), and Ashley Woodfolk (The Beauty that Remains).

Authors (from l.) Brittany Cavallaro, Olivia Cole, and Jay Coles during one of the two author signings.