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)


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