Written by Chad Dally
Would you like to hear about Wisconsin politics from an author receiving national attention?
Ask an award-winning mystery writer a question?
Want to learn how to start your own blog or create your own podcast?
Maybe you’d like to hear Wausau-area writers — teenagers to senior citizens — read their own, original work?
Over the course of 4 days, a person has a chance to do any of that — maybe ALL of that — and much more during the 2nd annual Central Wisconsin Book Festival, taking place around the Wausau area September 27–30, 2018.
The festival began in 2017 as a way to connect authors of all stripes with fans of the written word around Central Wisconsin. At the same time, it was meant to fill a void that doesn’t exist in other large, metropolitan areas in Wisconsin. The Fox Cities, Green Bay, Eau Claire, and Madison all have their own book festivals, why can’t we?
Since our first festival last year was successful, the organizers behind it (full disclosure: including, but definitely not limited to, me) decided to try again . . .
Thanks to some generous funding support from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, the Marathon County Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Marathon County Public Library, and others, the 2018 festival has expanded from 2017!
This year’s Central Wisconsin Book Festival has nearly doubled in size — from 10 events in 2017 to 19 events this year, spread out all across the Wausau area. Also, more funding in 2018 allowed organizers to cast a wider net for guests beyond the Midwest, and we landed a few big ones, but even they have Wisconsin connections!
Okay, enough gabbing . . . Let’s get to the part that probably interests you the most:
Who can you see during the festival?
(Besides each other, that is, because one of the goals of the festival is to bring people from the community together and connect like-minded lit lovers with each other!)
Let’s start with a few of the bigger events — what some might call “headliners”:
- Writer Dan Kaufman will talk about his 2018 book “The Fall of Wisconsin.” The book takes a look at the state’s history of progressive ideas and government, as a “laboratory of democracy” and one of the sparks for movements in areas such as labor and the environment. When Republicans swept the state government in 2010, they set out to change course and move the state in a different direction — in part by dismantling parts of the state’s political past. Kaufman follows Wisconsin politics closely and in addition to discussing his book, he’ll give his take on where the state’s at as we approach the 2018 midterm elections. He’ll also take audience questions. (Saturday, September 29, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Center for Civic Engagement in Wausau)
- Poet Lowell Jaeger grew up in Wausau and studied at what is now UW–Stevens Point at Wausau. He moved on to the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop before moving west. He’s published eight collections of poetry, received numerous awards for his work and is currently the Montana Poet Laureate. Lowell is coming back to his hometown for the festival to read his work and talk about his life of writing. (Saturday, September 29, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau)
- Maysee Yang Herr grew up in Wausau and, after a spell in Indiana, returned to Wausau to teach education at UW-Stevens Point and helped create the Hmong Phoojywg Enrichment Program that focuses on teaching K–12 students about Hmong language and culture. She and her family moved to Kansas City in early 2018, but we’ve managed to bring her back to share her debut children’s book, Tej Yaam Kuv Nyam/Tej Yam Kuv Nyiam (The Things I Like). It’s a bilingual, Hmong–English book that she says helps fill a need for children who want to learn how to read, write, and comprehend the Hmong language. (Saturday, September 29, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau)
Those three events involve authors from other parts of the country, but we have plenty of events featuring writers and others a little closer to home, including:
- Fact and Fiction and “Grace”: One of the most popular events of the 2017 festival was our community storytelling event “Fact or Fiction.” This year, we’re bringing back the event as “Fact and Fiction” and basing it around the theme of grace. What does grace mean? Listen to the people in our community give their interpretations; could be about forgiveness, could be about religion or elegance, maybe even a person named Grace! To get an idea what this year’s Fact and Fiction might be like (minus the new “grace” theme), or if you just want to hear some good stories and banter, watch last year’s Fact or Fiction event. (Friday, September 28, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Center for Civic Engagement)
- Attendees have the opportunity to hear the next generation of writers during the Young Writers Showcase! Current and former students from D.C. Everest, as well as UWSP–Wausau students, will read their own original works, including poetry and other genres. They will also read from and talk about the 2018 children’s book Memory Garden, which DCE students helped illustrate and which was written by Diane Look, one of four people killed in a March 2017 shooting in the Wausau area. (Saturday, September 29, from 2:15 to 3:15 at the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau)
- Authors John Bates and Ted Rulseh will provide a nice balance of woods and water with their two book talks. John’s new book, Our Living Ancestors, hits on all the ways in which an old-growth forest can touch the soul and benefit the environment. Yet less than 1% of Wisconsin’s old-growth forests remain. John will tell us about some of them. Ted’s new book, A Lakeside Companion, delves into all sorts of fun science behind (or in, or under) lakes — like why fish jump! Or, why lakes don’t freeze all the way to the bottom. If you’ve wondered what goes on in that lake by the family cabin, here’s a good chance to find out. (John’s talk is Saturday, September 29, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at Janke Book Store, and Ted’s talk is also on Saturday at Janke Book Store and runs from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.)
Something else that’s new this year is the chance for attendees to learn about specific mediums to express their creativity! Specifically, we’ll have workshops on:
- Starting your own blog
- Creating your own podcast
- Creating your own graphic novel (some of the steps, anyway)
Please note: Space is limited for the podcasting and graphic novel workshops, so call 715-261-7230 to register, or take your chances on Saturday, but we can’t guarantee a spot will be available.
The organizers put in a lot of hours to put together this four-day event, but it’s been a really fun process to organize a lineup of events that we hope is as diverse as it is fun.
Overlap of events is inevitable in a festival like this — you may have to choose between a couple of events when you’d like to see both — but hey, having to choose between two interesting events in Wausau isn’t the worst problem to have!
See you there (or here, or over there in that room . . .)!
Library Specialist | Marathon County Public Library
Chad Dally is a library specialist with the Marathon County Public Library, where he’s worked since 2012. He splits his time at the library between reference and programming, and generally prefers to read nonfiction over fiction. He’s heard chickens are smart, but the small brood he keeps at home provides evidence to the contrary. Email Chad Dally
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