Written by Chad Dally
At the end of September 2019, authors from across the United States (though mostly from Wisconsin) will converge on the Wausau area for the Central Wisconsin Book Festival (CWBF) — giving lovers of the written word the option to attend any of about a dozen different, FREE events!
Though event organizers (myself included) have written about the festival before for Wisconsin Central Time NEWS, we have a few updates to share regarding how this year’s event is taking shape . . .
Book Festival Line-Up
- We are absolutely thrilled to bring Marathon County native Craig Thompson back to his old drawing board, so to speak, for one of our headline events! Thompson, who grew up in Marathon City, is the award-winning author and cartoonist who created Blankets and Habibi, among other graphic-illustrated books. Craig lives in Los Angeles and doesn’t do events in Wisconsin too often, so this should be a really fun event with an incredibly talented artist. He’ll talk with Wisconsin Public Radio reporter (and, full disclosure, CWBF committee member) Rob Mentzer about his work and career, and talk about his new project: the comic series “Ginseng Roots,” partly set in Marathon County, which Craig worked on with his younger brother, Phil. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.
- Dr. Charles Hughes, director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Hughes grew up in Wausau and attended what was then the University of Wisconsin–Marathon County before eventually earning a PhD at UW–Madison in 2012. He held a series of lectures about music during a residency at UWMC (now UW–Stevens Point at Wausau) in 2016, not too long after he published his first book, “Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South.” Not only are we excited to hear Charles read some of his work — including, hopefully, a preview of his current project on the history of African Americans and professional wrestling — but we’re also working on a plan to include live music played by Charles and some of his friends! (Plus, we’re in talks to bring in a second author to join Charles, also a talented and published writer about music and pop culture, but we have to keep that under the cap for now.)
- On the fiction front, we have numerous Wisconsin authors joining us to talk not only about their books, but also their craft. These include authors like Liam Callanan, who wrote several books including the national bestseller Paris by the Book, and one of Wisconsin’s favorite writers, Victoria Houston (pictured here), author of the popular Loon Lake mystery series.
- If you prefer true tales, we have plenty of nonfiction authors lined up as well! A few confirmed guests include award-winning journalist and broadcaster Stuart Levitan (pictured here), who will talk about what Madison, WI, was like in the 1960s, which he detailed in a newer book. Also joining us from Madison, Jen Rubin will talk about her memoir of her family’s business that ran for 80 years in New York. And if you’re curious about outdoor adventures, you won’t want to miss Melanie McManus’s talk about hiking the entire 1,000-plus miles of the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, which she wrote about in a recent book.
- Each year, we’ve also made a concerted effort to include poetry in our festival offerings, and this year is no different. We’ll have a reading from Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga, as well as a group reading from members of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets from around the state.
It’s one thing to get to listen to and speak to a variety of authors. But we also want to give attendees a chance to learn. So, we’re organizing workshops and panel discussions for aspiring writers (or even just enthusiastic readers who aspire to aspire to write someday!). Rozga will conduct not one but two poetry workshops during the festival. Rubin of Madison will host a workshop on memoir writing, and we hope to rope several of our other authors into a panel discussion about their work. We’re also trying to get several guests onto the campus of UWSP at Wausau to work directly with students; we’ll share more info on that if it happens.
Festivals cost money — even a book festival, for which some authors generously offer to share their work for free. We have to spend money to get the word out about the event and for miscellaneous coordination and event-planning expenses. We’re incredibly grateful to have a number of groups supporting the Central Wisconsin Book Festival financially.
- The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, which provided the festival with a $4,928 Arts Grant. This is the second year that the Community Foundation’s board opted to fund our festival, and the money will go a long way toward authors and publicity.
- New this year when it comes to funding is the Dudley Foundation of Wausau, which approved a $2,000 grant for the festival, and we are super thankful for their support of this project.
- From the first festival in 2017, the Marathon County Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Marathon County Public Library have supported the festival with funding, and that will continue this year with the Foundation providing $2,000 and the Friends group contributing another $750.
- We’re also thankful for the $100 provided by Wisconsin Public Service. Even a smaller amount like this can be enough to bring in one more author or pay for just a little more publicity.
Simply put, this festival doesn’t happen without the generosity of organizations like these who put up money to make it happen!
Even though we’re a couple of months away, we still have some moving parts and we’ll continue to share festival updates as they’re confirmed.
Keep checking the event page of our website, and a full schedule of events should be ready soon! Events will take place Friday, September 27 through Sunday, September 29.
Thanks to our generous donors and sponsors, all festival events will be FREE to the public.
We look forward to seeing you in September!
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. Email Chad Dally
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