People of all ages filled the Ely Chapman Education Foundation Saturday during their annual Fall Festival and book giveaway.
Most of the several hundred attendees brought their own bags, at least one woman had a small wheeled cart and others used cardboard boxes provided to take their books home.
"I probably have at least 40 books here," said Esther Carpenter of Marietta. "I just couldn't stop finding ones I think I will like."
Carpenter added she has no idea how many times she has attended book giveaways at the foundation, which has held a fall festival for several years and also held a Spring Fling book giveaway this past March.
Laura Dye of Marietta has attended four of these book events at the foundation and said the roughly 20 she chose was a smaller than usual number.
"I think I have about 20 in these two bags, but my son wasn't able to come with me today," she said. "When he attends these things with me, we come out with at least twice as many books."
All of the new books and DVDs available during the giveaway were donated by the Appalachian Christian Project, a nonprofit organization based in Covington, Ky., that provides support to Appalachia, and community members. The Ely Chapman Foundation receives two shipments from the project each year, one in February and the other in August.
The daylong event began at 10 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m. with at least 600 people going through the first floor of the foundation, located in the former Marietta High School at 403 Scammel St., said Alice Chapman, founder and chair of the foundation.
"Since we don't count the number of people coming in or charge at the door, we really have no idea how many people joined us," Chapman said. "All I know is at least 500 people were through the door in the first two hours."
While the centerpiece of the event was the 35,000 books available free of charge, there was also a "Second Time Around" sale, which was like a flea market and sold previously owned items, and refreshments made in the in-house Living River Cafe. The menu included homemade chicken and noodles, soup beans and cornbread and a variety of baked goods.
"The soup beans went fast," Chapman said. "I am shocked they were gone just after noon, but I'm also pleased because that means people were here and helping us reach our goal."
Although the books and admission into the festival were free, Chapman said the foundation hoped to raise at least $2,000 for the foundation and its scholarships through the flea market, concessions and donations.
The annual book giveaways are the main fundraiser for the foundation.