Wednesday, February 27, 2019

This is farewell...

BOOKS & BEER: THE FINALE was a wonderful celebration of 25 years of the Elora Writers Festival: Festival favourite Terry Fallis, generous sponsor Wellington Brewery, a book-loving audience that included past EWF authors, committee members (among them, the Festival's founder, Ailsa Kay) not to mention our loyal fans.

And to top it off, funds raised for a donation to the Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington's early literacy program. 

As we pack up for the last time, we thank you all for supporting the Elora Writers Festival for the past 25 years!

Ready to go!

Serena ready to sell lots of books!

And we're off!

And we're laughing already!

Book signing...

And more book signing...

MC Dave Beynon chats with Ailsa Kay, the founder of
the Elora Writers Festival (Words by the Water)
25 years ago

Thank you to our past authors, guests, writing contest entrants and judges, sponsors and supporters, media partners, volunteers and committee members. It's been a wonderful 25-year ride, but we're going for a break now.

Our last words to you are these:

Please support Canadian authors and books! 

Please encourage children to read and to write!

Please continue to celebrate, in any way you can, books, authors, reading and writing!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Books & Beer: The Finale (Yes, we are saying good-bye)

To friends and supporters of the Elora Writers Festival,

For twenty-five years, our annual literary festival has been a celebration of books, writers and readers. We’ve hosted hundreds of Canadian authors, listened to them read, schmoozed with them over hors d’oeuvres – or complete gourmet dinners, in the early days at The Drew House – and supported them by buying books at our on-site bookstore.

Our guests have been introduced to some of the newest voices on the Canadian literary scene and also had a chance to renew friendships with some of their favourites, who have returned to share new books and create new fans.

But, the arts landscape is an uncertain place, and after twenty-five years, the Elora Writers Festival has decided to take a break. It was a tough decision, but necessary, and here’s why.

Sponsorship is dwindling, grant support is unreliable, ticket sales are unpredictable and the costs associated with hosting the event have led the organizing committee – all volunteers – to acknowledge that financial viability is out of reach. That’s not fair to our authors, and it’s not fair to the arts community, which has worked to support us in the past.

So, you’re invited to help us celebrate one more time!

The Elora Writers Festival is wrapping up its 25-year run with one last literary bash – Books & Beer: The Finale, to be held on Tuesday, February 26, 7-9 p.m., in the Irvine Room, the lower ballroom area at The Granary, part of the newly refurbished Elora Mill in Elora. (Ticket info coming soon!)

Terry Fallis, probably our most popular author-presenter ever, will join us to help with the books part of the festivities. Wellington Brewery joins us once again to look after the beer part. (A few surprise guests are also in the plans, so stay tuned!) We’ll have archival material to share as we look back over the history of the little festival that began 25 years ago as Words By The Water in Elora and wrapped up last June at the Wellington County Museum and Archives in Aboyne.

Wellington County has a thriving arts community, including another very successful literary event – our “cousins” over at the Eden Mills Writers Festival. We know that even though our little festival is going for a rest, fans of great Canadian writing will continue to support authors and artists through the many events and organizations in our community.

See you on Tuesday, February 26, 7-9 p.m., at the Irvine Room, The Granary (Elora Mill) for Books & Beer: The Finale!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Festival 2018 is in the books!

The sky outside clouded over, but a little rain didn't matter to those of us gathered inside Aboyne Hall at the Wellington County Museum & Archives as five accomplished Canadian authors - representing a wide spectrum of genres - took over the microphone and treated us to another uplifting afternoon of celebrating books, reading and writing.

The room was buzzing a little more than usual - some of the youthful writing contest winners joined us for the readings. And why not? We kicked off the program with two voices from the Canadian kidlit scene, one fairly new and one very familiar: Kate Blair (Transferral, Tangled Planet) and Kathy Stinson (The Man With The Violin, Harry and Walter, Red Is Best...)

Tickets, please!

MC Roxanne Beale gets things rolling!

"I had to do a lot of research on what it's like to live on the space
station," says Kate Blair, explaining some of the challenges she faced
writing Tangled Planet

"So I asked Joshua Bell for a few lines about his experience, and
he gave me, um, a bit more than a few lines..." says Kathy Stinson.

Next up was Indigenous writer, playwright, essayist, humourist - Okay, he does it all! - Drew Hayden Taylor (Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, Take Us To Your Chief), who made us laugh and made us think, too.

"Yes, I'm a special occasion..." says Drew. (Inside joke. You had to be there...)

At the break, audience members enjoyed snacks courtesy of The Red Door Café in Fergus, and beer from our festival sponsor, Wellington Brewery. Yes, there was wine, too. And lots, LOTS of chatting, book shopping, book signing and visiting among audience members and authors.


Book signing, out in the garden

Kathy, Drew and Drew's wife Janine chat during the intermission.

Linden and Kate deep in conversation

A Giller Prize nominee (Michelle Winters) talks it out with a
Giller Prize winner (Linden MacIntyre) as Michelle's husband, Chris,
listens in. And Wellington Brew is enjoyed!

We reassembled for the raffle draw (Way to go Bob! He won a collection of signed books from our Festival 2018 authors!) and the presentation of prizes to the winners of our annual writing contest, always a feel-good moment in an afternoon of good feels.

Many of the Youth and Teen winners were in attendance, and they received hearty congratulations along with their prize money. The first-prize winner in the Open category was Jeremy Luke Hill of Guelph (check out Luke's work at Vocamus Press - he's a busy man on the local literary scene!).

Find the entire list of winners in our blog post, here.

Writing contest winner Jeremy Luke Hill, of Guelph, with
EWF committee member Jean Mills

In the second half, Michelle Winters read from her darkly funny 2017 Giller Prize-shortlisted novel, I Am A Truck, and introduced us to Martin, the character who almost took over the story. Also, some head-banging rock and roll...

Michelle Winters sets the scene

Linden MacIntyre, 2012 Giller Prize winner, wrapped up the readings with a passage from his latest novel, The Only Café, a haunting exploration of the effects of conflict on a Lebanese family.

"There's been a lot of levity," says Linden MacIntyre as he prepares
to read from The Only Café. "This will be a change." 

But that wasn't the end! We assembled the authors at the front of the room for the always entertaining Q&A, in which we heard about the writing process ("It's hard," said Linden MacIntyre), favourite journeys (everything from travelling to Northern Ontario islands to leaving the teenage years behind), and the effects of zero gravity on the human bladder. Yup.

Linden MacIntyre enjoys Kate Blair's lesson in human anatomy as
affected by zero gravity.

So the afternoon wrapped up with laughter - and a feeling of time well spent, together, doing what we do year after year: celebrating books, authors, reading and writing.

Thanks again to all our generous sponsors: 

Centre Wellington Community Foundation
Township of Centre Wellington
Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington
Elora Arts Council
Little Tree Garden Market
The Writers' Union of Canada
The Grand 101 FM
Wellington Brewery
and our hosts at the Wellington County Museum & Archives. Thanks also to Nancy Frater at Booklore in Orangeville for helping us with our book sales.

Thanks to our fantastic authors - Kate Blair, Kathy Stinson, Drew Hayden Taylor, Michelle Winters and Linden MacIntyre (go buy and read their books, please!).

And special thanks to our loyal audience, because we could not do this without you. Please stay tuned for news of Books & Beer V (our annual winter-busting event), and next May's Festival 2019!

(Photos by Dale Mills)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Elora Writers Festival Writing Contest winners!

 Since the deadline for our contest closed in March, our judges have been busy reading, considering, evaluating and making their selections.

Finally, the decisions have been made and here they are, the winners of the 2018 Elora Writers Festival Writing Contest:

In the YOUTH category (age 13 and under)
(Judges: Lisa MacColl, Carey Gallagher and Kate Blair)

First Prize
Trapped in the Darkness
by Jonah Doupe (13) of Belwood

Second Prize
Mr. Linden's Library
by Hanzi Li (12) of Kitchener

Third Prize
The Broken Tooth
by Charlotte Ting (8) of Guelph


In the TEEN category (age 15-19)
(Judges: Heather Wright, Heather Debling)

First Prize
A Summer to Remember
by Becca Swan (14) of Fergus

Second Prize
He Was Gone, But I Wasn't
By Manuela Morgan (14) of Kitchener

Third Prize
The Boy with the Black Mask
By Serena Polak (15) of Elora


In the OPEN category (any age; only category for adults 20 and older)
(Judges: Bieke Stengos, Lisa McLean, Michael Hale, Mary Bentley Lloyd)

First Prize
Wild John
by Jeremy Luke Hill of Guelph

Second Prize
Cataloguing the Stars
by Andrew Lee of Hamilton

Third Prize
Over the Falls
by Katrine Raymond of Hamilton


Acceleration by Anastasia McEwen
Tears of the Cowboy by Paul Hock
Joy by Jean-Pierre Forget
A Silent Visitor’s Audible Wake by Phil Andrews
Feedback by Marion Reidel
The One by Mary Steer (Mary Taslimi) 
Donor #0378Q by Cynthia Matthews
A Perfect Place in Time by Lisa Washbrook


Congratulations to the contest winners, and a special thank-you to our hard-working judges. Also, we’d like to send a big shout-out to all the writers who shared their stories with us. Your enthusiastic response year after year proves that you agree with us whole-heartedly: Creative writing is important!

Thanks also to our two contest sponsors, The Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington (Youth category), and the Elora Arts Council (Teen category), two organizations that join us in recognizing the importance of supporting and encouraging young writers.

During the intermission of the 2018 Elora Writers Festival on Sunday, May 6 (1-4 p.m.), any winners in attendance will receive their prizes – along with a big round of applause from the Festival audience and authors.

And speaking of the Festival authors, here’s our fantastic line-up, in case you missed it:

Drew Hayden Taylor – humour in fiction, drama and essay from an Indigenous perspective, including Take Me To Your Chief and the recent Tarragon Theatre production, Cottagers and Indians

Michelle Winters – 2017 Giller shortlisted author of the dark and quirky I Am A Truck

Kathy Stinson – award-winning author of books for young readers, including The Man With The Violin and the classic Red Is Best

Linden MacIntyre – 2009 Giller Prize winner and former broadcaster whose journalism background led to his latest novel, The Only Café

Kate Blair – author of YA speculative fiction (Transferral and Tangled Planet) with a whole list of award nominations

Please join us! You can order tickets online through the Theatre on the Grand box office (find the link to their ticketingwebsite, here). You can also purchase tickets at the Fergus Grand Theatre box office or at the door (Aboyne Hall, Wellington Country Museum & Archives).