I once took four authors across the country to a literary festival. We drove from different directions, all geared up to talk about novel writing, editing, where the ideas came from, what was next - to say we were pumped was no exaggeration. So you can imagine how we all felt to see seven people in the audience. 'It's a Wednesday,' said one of the organisers, as though that would make it alright. Needless to say, we gave it our best until one of the audience walked out because I wouldn't accept his manuscript. ('You have to be studying for an MA,' I told his him as he mumbled about wasting his time.)
The experience left me feeling a little jaded about participating in literary festivals. That was until the Chipping Norton Literary Festival launched, and they let me organise a book group forum - they even 'gave' me Radio 4's Sue McGregor as a presenter. We invited guests from the Prison Reading Groups project and from the Reading Agency charity, and we had a terrific sharing of views from books popular in prisons to readers sharing what they like about their groups and how they keep dominant members quiet. It was a Sunday morning and a packed house.
This year, we're happy to be involved with the Chip Lit Fest again.
We're sponsoring two events, namely:
The Richard and Judy Book Club and Sex, Love and Other Foreign Policy Goals, a debut novel by Jesse Armstrong, co-writer on TV comedies such as The Thick of It and Four Lions.
Literary festivals are springing up all over the country and this one, while relatively new, is vibrant and definitely here for the long haul. 
For more information: http://www.chiplitfest.com/