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Ashe County Arts Council and Public Library Host Seventh Annual ‘On the Same Page’ Literary Festival

by Emma Speckman

Sept. 11, 2014. Ashe County’s seventh annual On the Same Page Literary Festival will take place Sept. 16-20, scattered around different locations in downtown West Jefferson. Each year, the Ashe County Arts Council, in collaboration with the county’s public library, hosts several bestselling writers for the five-day festival, which features lectures, workshops, sit-down meals with some of the authors, a book fair and more literary-themed fun.

“The festival is a celebration of reading and writing,” the Arts Council’s executive director Jane Lonon said. “It brings in an eclectic mix of writers—the best of the best.”

imgresOn the Same Page began by accident seven years ago, when the Arts Council invited Appalachia-native author Lee Smith to West Jefferson to give a talk.

“At the same time she came the library had just expanded,” Lonon said.

Like bookends of the town, the public library sits on one end of a hill in downtown West Jefferson, the arts council on another. That weekend, a surprising number of people came out for the library opening and author talk and the town was abuzz with book lovers.

“All of a sudden we realized we has the seed of a little thing that could grow,” Lonon said. “The literary arts are so strong in Ashe County.”

The writers featured in this year’s festival are Wilton Barnhardt, Georgia Bonesteel, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Donna Campbell, Wiley Cash, Georgann Eubanks, Philip Gerard, Alan Hodge, Robert Inman, Daniel Wallace and Allan Wolf.

The low-key festival caters to aspiring and practicing writers in the High Country.

“Right here in our own backyard we have some fabulous talents,” Lonon said.

The events wrap up Saturday with the Page Crafter’s Award ceremony, which honors winners of the annual festival-sponsored writing competition. Winners will have a chance to read their winning pieces to the audience.

“Hearing the writers read their work aloud…it’s fabulous,” Lonon said.

Most festival events are free, except ones that are associated with a meal, such as the author luncheons, which are limited to 15 people and allow for time for fans to chat casually with their favorite writers, said Lonon.

“This experience for authors and the audience is always meaningful,” she said. “It’s small, it’s intimate.”

For more information about the festival and this year’s featured authors, visit the festival’s website or call the Ashe County Public Library at 336-846-2041 or the Ashe County Arts Council at 336-846-ARTS.

Schedule of events:

Tuesday, Sept. 16

4 p.m.
Workshop for Teachers with Allan Wolf.  For area teachers.  Ashe Library  Friends Room

7:30 pm
An Evening with Elliot Engel.  Join us as Dr. Engel presents “Our Slippery Mother Tongue: A Light History of the English Language”.  Ashe Arts Center.  Tickets and reservations required.  Please call the Arts Council to make your reservation.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

11 a.m.
Alan Hodge of Our State magazine.  Friends of the Library presentation.  Reading, discussion and Q and A.  See how much you know about North Carolina!  Ashe Library Friends Room.

2 – 5 p.m.
Georgann Eubanks presents a writing workshop, Writing from Nature.  Here’s what Georgann has to say:  ‘Henry James said, “Be one upon whom nothing is lost.”  For the writer, that means attending to your surroundings with concentration, focus, a sense of wonder, access to metaphor, and a driving curiosity.  In this workshop, we’ll use the natural world as the basis for a series of writing prompts that will help you create a daily practice designed to sharpen your descriptive skills and sense of story.  Whether you write poetry or prose, we’ll aim to complete and share the results of five exercises.  Please bring along a favorite reference book-a field guide to birds, trees, waterfalls-anything pertaining to Nature.’  Ashe County Library Friends Room.  Reservations required.  Limited to 15 participants.  Please call the Arts Council to reserve your spot.

Thursday, Sept. 18

9 a.m.
Workshop with Allan Wolf.  Writer’s workshop.  Ashe County Library Friends Room.  Reservations required.  Please call the Arts Council for reservations.

Literary Trails Luncheon with Georgann Eubanks and Donna Campbell.    ‘As NC writer Tom Earnhart tells us, every North Carolinian has a “river address.”  In fact, our state has an unusual number of river basins that help to define our history, the shape of our landscapes, our flora and fauna, and our literature from the writers who have lived along the banks of these many rivers.  We’ll take a trip across the state connecting writers to the water that influenced them, including some excerpts from past and present On the Same Page writers: Kay Byer, Philip Gerard, Ron Rash, John Hart, Fred Chappell, and Lee Smith.’ Boxed lunches.  Reservations required. $10 charge

2 p.m.
Bob Inman will discuss his newest book, The Governor’s Lady, and other topics.  Reading, discussion and Q and A.  Ashe County Library Friends Room.

7:30 p.m.
Wiley Cash.  Readings and discussion.  Ashe Arts Center.

Friday, September 19

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
12th Annual Quilt Fair.  Piecemakers Quilt Guild Annual Quilt Fair.  Jefferson Station.

10 a.m.
Phillip Gerard.  Readings, discussion and Q and A.  Ashe County Library Friends Room.

Lunch with an Author.  Informal discussions over lunch (local restaurants and venues TBA) with your favorite author and a chance to visit up close and personal.  Chat, ask questions and share a meal.  Dutch Treat.  Authors include Wilton Barnhardt, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Wiley Cash, Phillip Gerard, Bob Inman and Daniel Wallace.  Sign up for an author of your choice.  Each lunch limited to 15 participants.  Reservations required.  Please call the Arts Council to make your reservation.

2 p.m.
Kathryn Stripling Byer.  Readings, discussion and Q and A.  Ashe County Library Friends Room.

2:30 p.m.
Georgia Bonesteel.  Readings and discussion and Q and A.  Quilt Fair, Jefferson Station.

3-6 p.m.
Book Fair.  In addition to our Festival authors, we have many wonderful local and regional authors.  Come and meet them and take a look at their offerings!  Books available for purchase.  Ashe Arts Center.

7:30 p.m.
Daniel Wallace.  He has been on the NY Times bestseller list.  His book has become a Broadway hit – now come and meet him and hear about his latest endeavors!  Reading, discussion and Q and A.  Ashe Arts Center.

Saturday, Sept. 20

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Ashe County Farmers Market.  Browse the wonderful produce, crafts, baked goods and more all handmade and homegrown in beautiful Ashe County.

8:30 a.m.
Page Turner’s Breakfast.  For donors to the OTSP Festival.  Doss-Arvidson home.  By Invitation Only.  Want to become a Page Turner and join this event?  Please visit the Page Turner’s link under How to Help on this website.

10 a.m.
Wilton Barnhardt.  Readings, discussion and Q and A from his novels including Lookaway, Lookaway.  Under the tent at the Ashe County Farmers Market.

10 a.m.– 4 p.m.
12th Annual Quilt Fair.  Piecemakers Quilt Guild Annual Quilt Fair.  Jefferson Station.

10:15 a.m.
Georgia Bonesteel.  Readings, discussion and Q and A.  Quilt Fair, Jefferson Station.

On the Same Plate Luncheon.  Enjoy a delicious catered luncheon and an always interesting and spirited panel discussion featuring our Festival authors Wilton Barnhardt, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Wiley Cash, Georgann Eubanks, Phillip Gerard, Bob Inman, and Daniel Wallace.  $15 charge for this event, reservations required. West Jefferson United Methodist Church, Hensley Hall.

2:30 p.m.
Page Crafters Awards.  Always a treat to hear the winning entries in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and poetry read by the authors themselves!  Ashe County Library Friends Room.