Library, museum to kick off Wellington County Writers’ Festival on April 23

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Setting out to highlight local writers from the community, the Wellington County Museum and Archives (WCMA), in partnership with the Wellington County Library, is hosting its first Wellington County Writers’ Festival – an event organizers hope to make annual. 

The Wellington County Writers’ Festival kicks off April 23 from 10am to 4pm with the event’s opening address and keynote speaker in the archives reading room. Author readings and conversations will follow from 11:30am to 4pm with a noon intermission.

The event also features a book market, book signings by local authors, children’s activities, food and drink, musical entertainment and puppet shows.

Local writers and writers of books relevant to Wellington County have applied to take part in the first annual festival. 

WCMA archivist Karen Wagner confirmed organizers have received 45 applications from throughout the county. 

Writers will be participating in the event April 23, either as a vendor or through readings. 

Following the April 23 kick off, workshops and panels will take place at library branches through May and June with the final event held at the Hillsburgh branch on June 25.

Wagner noted everyone participating in the event, beyond the authors, has a connection to the county, including bookstores Cordial Cloves Books and Magic Pebble Books, and several publishers. 

“Everything has to relate to Wellington County because we really wanted to expose our local writers to the public and similarly expose the public to … the creative talent we have within Wellington County and what the variety of genres are,” she said. 

The event features readings from 19 authors including everything from children’s books, historical fiction, poetry, science fiction, travel and theatrical writing, as well as fantasy and short story. 

After running a local author series, Archives to Armchairs, in 2019, Wagner said she knew there were more local authors in need of exposure.  

“We thought this would be a good opportunity to have more authors all in one setting, to give them an opportunity to meet the public, and for the public to meet them,” she explained. 

“Local authors maybe don’t have the opportunity to get the exposure that they deserve,” she added. “And I think it’s important for the public to realize what creative challenge we have within the county. 

“And this is just a venue to allow them to do that.”

Wagner noted they’ve also asked local author Rio Youers to be the keynote speaker for the event, with a conversation centred around emerging writers and perseverance in the craft.

“He’s been writing for a number of years, but it also took him a little time to get going and as a result, he has quite a broad variety of genres that he’s written in,” Wagner explained. 

“And we just thought that would be great to have our emerging and existing writers hear about that [and] maybe encourage some new people to start writing as well.”

Having persevered against the odds, Youers told the Advertiser he’s hoping to share some of those struggles with fellow writers.

“Really, the best advice I could give any writer is to read thoroughly, read every day, read multiple genres,” he said. “Reading is the fuel.

“You sit down and you write – that’s the vehicle, that’s what moves you,” he explained. “But reading is what fuels that vehicle, it’s what gets it going and keeps it going. 

“So I think that’s key if you want to become a writer,” he added. “If you’re not reading books, and plenty of books, then that uphill struggle is going to get even harder.” 

Youers said he’s both thrilled and grateful for his involvement in the festival, especially given it’s the inaugural event. 

In the absence of the Elora Writers’ Festival, he said “it’s a wonderful way, I think, to celebrate books and writing, and will be a great showcase for some of the best writing talent in the area.

“I’m hopeful that the Wellington County Writers’ Festival is going to fill in that space and once again give a platform to some of the great voices that are out there in community.”