By Anthony Wyatt
July 31, 2012. From Friday, Aug. 3, to Saturday, Aug. 4, authors, publishers, booksellers and more will gather at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock for the first annual High Country Festival of the Book. While its main goal is to celebrate art and literature, the festival’s events range anywhere from a Civil War Symposium to a “Make Your Own Book” workshop for children. With many of the events open to the public for free and many renowned authors on-hand for topic panels and special presentations, the inaugural High Country Festival of the Book is shaping up to be a local best seller.
Although the majority of the festival’s events will take place on Saturday, the High Country Festival of the Book will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 3 with a Civil War Symposium. For a $50 donation, participants will get the chance to hear keynote speakers Dr. Judkin Browning, Dr. Andrew Slap, Pat Garber, Rod Gragg and Patrick Schroeder as well as enjoy a patio lunch with the speakers. Also, symposium participants will have the opportunity to purchase Civil War books, get books signed by the speaking authors and receive a special “Sneak Preview” of Saturday’s festival. Registration for the Civil War Symposium begins at 8 a.m. and there is limited attendance.
Friday will also be host to a memoir writing workshop, “Facing Your Fears & Finding Your Voice,” guided by Wade Rouse. Rouse, a critically acclaimed memoirist and bestselling author, “will lead participants through an in-depth discussion and writing exercise on overcoming fear and finding your voice.” He will also teach querying techniques, the art of approaching agents and how to sell one’s work to a publisher. As with the Symposium, pre-registration is required along with a $30 donation fee. This workshop is small and has only 30 available seats.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the High Country Festival of the Book will kick-off its free public events. Throughout the day, participants will have the chance to listen to author panels, see various author presentations and take part in unique “Activities on the Patio.” Also during the day, many authors, publishers and booksellers will be on hand to exhibit, showcase and sell their work.
The author panels will run from 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. in the Highland Ballroom and will feature discussions ranging in topics from cookbooks to Civil War perspectives to “Mountain Stories.” Each of the six, hour-long panels will feature multiple authors providing their individual perspectives on the various topics. All panels, with the exception of “Cooking; Food is a Story Too!”, will be guided by an author/moderator.
Also starting at 9 a.m., the Summit Room of the Meadowbrook Inn will be the venue for five author presentations. Some of the featured authors include: Casey Clabough, a novelist, scholarly writer and memoirist from Appomattox County, Virginia; Bob Watts, a North Carolina native, published poet and Lehigh University assistant professor; and Stephanie Powell Watts, a short fiction writer, poet and Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalist. Each presentation will last approximately one hour.
Although much of the festival is geared toward literarily enthused adults, there are a few events aimed at children as well. The “Make Your Own Book” event, which begins at 10 a.m. on the patio, will give kids the opportunity to create an “Altered Book.” Jonathan Graves, a children’s author, will read from his work Isabella Propeller and introduce a presentation by children’s book illustrator, Gail Haley. Additionally, from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Watauga Library Youth Services will be hosting a presentation on emerging authors, including local teen writers.
The closing event of the festival will be a special “Movable Author Feast.” Ten bestselling authors will be dining and conversing with dinner guests as they move from table to table throughout the evening. Participants will have the opportunity to casually talk with the writers, purchase the authors’ works or have their books signed. “This promises to be one of the highlights of the summer!” the Friends of the Watauga County Public Library state. Participating authors include Robert Morgan, Rita Mae Brown, Wade Rouse, Gayle Trent, Casey Clabough, Stephanie Powell Watts, Bob Watts, James W. Hall, Sheri Castle, and Tamra Wilson. To cap-off the evening, there will also be an auction of Stephanie Welden’s painting “Fairy Tale,” a book basket raffle, prizes and “books, books, books!” There are only a few event tickets remaining and will likely be sold out by July 31.
The High Country Festival of the Book is sponsored by the non-profit organization Friends of the Library. All proceeds from ticket sales and donations will go towards providing Watauga Public Library resources and materials that are not covered by state or local funding.
For more information about the Festival of the Book, author biographies or to purchase tickets, visit highcountryfestivalofthebook.com or call (828) 264-8784.
HIGH COUNTRY FESTIVAL OF THE BOOK: FULL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, Aug. 3:
8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Pre-Registration for Civil War Symposium
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Civil War Symposium
1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Memoir Writing Workshop with Wade Rouse
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Exhibits open to Friends of the Library members
SATURDAY, Aug. 4:
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Exibits, Authors, Panels and Book Signings FREE and Open to the Public
9 a.m. – 10 a.m. The Literature of Nature Panel
9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Gail Haley Presentation
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Make Your Own Book! Activity
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Two Heads are Better Than One: Collaborating Mystery Writers Panel
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Casey Clabough Presentation
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Jonathan Graves Reads Isabella Propeller
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Civil War: The Individual’s Perspective Panel
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Stephanie Powell Watts Presentation
12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Mountain Voices Panel
12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Wade Rouse Presentation
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Artist Stephanie Welden at Friends of the Library table in the hotel ballroom to sign copies of the 2012 High Country Festival of the Book Poster.
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Cooking: Food is a Story Too! Panel
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Bob Watts Presentation
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Emerging Authors Activity
3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Detective vs. Amateur Sleuth
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Moveable Author Feast