Save the Dates :: Central Wisconsin Book Festival Is Coming Sept. 17-26, 2021

Written by Chad Dally

Even though summer is officially upon us, the committee behind the Central Wisconsin Book Festival — including this author — have their eyes on the fall as we plan for the 5th annual fest!


The festival, an initiative of the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL), has grown in several exciting ways since its humble beginnings in 2017: The number of authors hosted, the number of people who attend, and the reach of the festival beyond Central Wisconsin to other states and even countries!

The biggest way we’re growing this year is geographically: For the first time, MCPL is collaborating with the Portage County Public Library in Stevens Point and the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids to host events not only in all 3 cities, but also virtually.

Virtual was the name of our festival game in 2020 due to the pandemic, yet we also found that people can — and did! — tune in to watch our events from anywhere in the world. We want to offer that same opportunity with this year’s festival, but we’re also optimistically planning a return to in-person events, and we couldn’t be happier about the latter.

(Oh, and at 10 days in length, this will also be our LONGEST festival yet!)

Can we give you a sneak peek of some of the authors scheduled to share their work during this year’s festival?

Why, yes. Yes we can…

Andrew Graff

Andrew J. Graff CREDIT Scott Huck
Wisconsin-bred author Andrew Graff. (Photo by Scott Huck, courtesy of the subject.)

We’re really excited to start our festival with Andrew Graff, an up-and-coming author who grew up in Wisconsin and whose debut novel “Raft of Stars” — centered around 2 young boys in the fictional town of Claypot, WI — is receiving great acclaim from readers and critics alike. Andrew will be at the Marathon County Historical Society for a reading and book signing on the evening of Friday, September 17. (Time TBD)

Andrew Graff book cover of Raft of Stars
(Book cover image courtesy of HarperCollins.)

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton. (Photo by Andrew Feller, courtesy of the subject.)

Poetry is always a big part of our festival, and thanks to a generous grant from Wisconsin Humanities, we’ll host Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton for 4 events! She’ll lead 2 workshops:

  • An in-person workshop for high school and college students on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point at Wausau
  • A virtual workshop open to all ages

In addition to these, she’ll be in person for 2 live readings in Wausau and Stevens Point.

Dasha is a gifted writer and speaker, and we’re lucky we’ll have so much time with her. (We’re also hoping to team her with the new, and yet-to-be named, Wausau Poet Laureate.)

Charles Hughes

Charles Hughes
Wausau-native author Charles Hughes. (Photo courtesy of the subject.)

We’re happy to welcome back Wausau native Charles Hughes, director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center, to discuss his new book about the rapper Bushwick Bill, during an event at the Whitewater Music Hall in Wausau.

(Book cover image courtesy of University of Texas Press.)

*  *  *

One area in which our festival has been a bit light in the past is children’s authors, and we’re making up for that in 2021 in a big way! We’ve reached agreements with authors including Miranda Paul, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and V.T. Bidania, among others.

That’s just a small sample of what could be more than 30 festival events at various cities and locations over the course of 10 days.


Be sure to keep track of festival events through the festival website, as well as the CWBF Facebook pageTwitter, and Instagram feeds, and our CWBF YouTube channel​.

Whether it’s virtual or in person or both — in Wausau, Stevens Point, or Wisconsin Rapids — we look forward to seeing some new and familiar faces at the 5th annual Central Wisconsin Book Festival in September!

Chad Dally - MCPL - Library SpecialistChad Dally
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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