ABOYNE – People can connect with local authors, write with a typewriter, listen to stories and music, or even watch a puppet show at the second annual Wellington County Writers’ Festival.
Taking place at the Wellington County Museum and Archives (WCMA) on June 10 from 11am to 4pm, the event will include a book fair, writers’ talks, creative workshops, entertainment and food vendors.
Last year’s inaugural festival featured events throughout May and June, but this year everything is taking place in one action-packed day.
The family friendly event includes hands-on activities like bookbinding and straw weaving workshops, and face painting and glitter tattoos from Cleo the Clown.
Author panels and a keynote address will take place in the WCMA restored 1877 Heritage Barn.
The master of ceremonies (MC) will be Rio Youers, an Elora resident and award-winning fantasy author.
Youers’ novels include No Second Chances, Westlake Soul, Lola on Fire, Halcyon, and The Forgotten Girl.
He also writes novellas, short stories and comic books, including the Refrigerator Full of Heads, a new six-issue series from DC Comics, and Sleeping Beauties, based on the novel by Stephen King and Owen King.
Youers said he has been writing stories since he was six or seven years old, “got serious about it at 16, and finally got good at about 36.”
He was first published in 2008, and has worked on developing his craft ever since, noting his writing has come a long way since then.
“If I can use my experience to help someone else, I’m all about that,” he said, noting he is “thrilled” to be part of the festival.
Youers is looking forward to talking with “other writers at any level, whether they are published with the big houses or just starting out.
“I love to meet readers and I love to meet writers,” he said.
Youers notes that writing can be a “very solitary vocation … sometimes it can feel like you are just talking to a wall.”
He said writers’ festivals are valuable because they offer an opportunity for writers to “engage, interact, inspire, and be inspired by other writers. That can only be a positive.”
Events like this are also “great for networking,” and can help new writers see a range of different paths they can take in their career.
He feels “very confident this festival will benefit the writers attending.”
Youers said it is a “great honour” to be the MC, and he is very excited to join in person this year.
Last year, Youers was the keynote speaker for the festival, but had to join virtually because he had COVID-19. Though he was disappointed, Youers said he still enjoyed the experience.
“I was really warmed by how many people were in the room and listening and paying attention,” he said. “In the depth of COVID, that gave me a real boost.”
Youers is hopeful some of the same people attend again, so he has the opportunity to shake their hands.
The keynote speaker this year will be Robin Lefler, the emerging local romance author of Reasonable Adults.
There will also be five panels with local authors reading from their work and discussing different genres. Each panel will conclude with a question and answer period.
On the children’s literature panel will be Phil Bean, Lauren Dawn Davidson, Marilyn Helmer and Vanessa Ireson.
Discussing poetry will be Melinda Burns, Jeremy Luke Hill, James Nowack and Samantha Blair White.
The panelists talking about mystery writing will be Pam Blance, Gloria Ferris, Liz Lindsay and Donna Warner.
Delving into the worlds of fantasy and science fiction will be Tristan Dineen, J.M. Tibbot, Sharon Sasaki and Marian Thorpe.
The final panel, about history writing, includes Carol Newal, Jan Feduck, Marion Roes and Carol Devine.
More than 60 other writers, including Ashley and Brenda Tindall, authors of The Way I See Things: A Mother and Daughter Offer Hope Through Tragedy, are participating in the book fair.
In the library, a range of children’s activities are planned, including story time with Ms. Sharyn, a scavenger hunt, and a visit from Cleo the Clown from 12 to 3pm.
“The Wellington County Museum and Archives has long been a gathering place for the community to celebrate our stories in Wellington County,” stated county councillor Mary Lloyd, chair of the county’s information, heritage, and seniors committee, in a press release.
“I am excited that the WCMA, in partnership with Wellington County Library, is welcoming writers from the County and our neighbouring municipalities to share their stories and inspire creativity.”
Last year, the inaugural event focused on Wellington County writers, but this year the scope has expanded to include writers from the surrounding communities of Guelph, Waterloo Region, and Dufferin, Grey, Huron, and Perth Counties.
Jana Burns, administrator at Wellington Place said “we want to celebrate all types of writing and introduce the public to emerging and established authors.”
More information is available at www.wellington.ca/WritersFest.