By Zandra Juárez, GAC Volunteer

A collaboration between Wellington County Museum and Archives and Wellington County libraries has launched what is hoped to be an annual festival to celebrate the art of writing and local authors: The Wellington County Writers’ Festival. Providing space and voice to local writers, this series of events will feature author talks and round tables, as well as entertainment for all ages. Both the museum and the library have hosted writers’ events over the years, so this is a natural collaboration to bring readers together to meet local authors.

I had the opportunity to interview Karen Wagner, festival chairperson, and asked her why Wellington County libraries and the Museum and Archives decided to create this event. She explained, “In the fall of 2019 the Wellington County Museum and Archives ran a very successful local author series called Archives to Armchairs. One Sunday afternoon a month from September to November, three local Wellington County authors who had used our archives to undertake research for their books gave a reading and presentation in the Wellington County Archives Reading Room. This series was very well received and had a good attendance. This led to the idea of having a Wellington County Writers’ Festival where more local authors could have an opportunity to engage with the public. In addition, the Wellington County Museum and Archives, as part of its strategic plan, was looking for new initiatives and opportunities to partner with other County Departments in order to engage with the community and provide relevant programming. Partnering with the Wellington County Library, which has 14 branches throughout the County, was a natural fit.”

From the early planning stages of the festival, it was clear that readers and authors alike had been experiencing isolation and turning to books as refuge. The festival’s calling was wide and inclusive: Writers who live in Wellington County or who have written works relevant to Wellington County were invited to apply. Writers were asked to commit to being available to take part in the April 23 launch event and the June 25 closing event, and at least one other event during May and June at a Wellington County Library Branch. Writers were also offered the opportunity to have a vendor table at the launch event where they could meet the public and sell their books. Local bookstores and publishers have also been invited to attend as vendors on April 23.

Karen Wagner says the organizers are really pleased with the number of writers that applied to be part of the festival’s first edition and she is enthusiastic about it being a nine-week series of events instead of a one-day or weekend event. “A one-day event would not have provided us with an opportunity to bring community awareness to all of the writers that have applied. A series of events allows us to provide multiple dates for the community to have an opportunity to celebrate their love of literature.”

The Wellington County Writers’ Festival has two main events and several more in between: “Our launch event takes place on Saturday April 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. We are excited to celebrate local literature. Attendees and participants will have the opportunity to enjoy a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, with diverse readings for all ages and interests, book vendors, engaging children’s programming, a food truck and café treats. Attendees and participants will also have the chance to meet and mingle. The Wellington County Library is currently planning several workshops and panel discussions with participating writers at several branches throughout the County in May and June. They will host a closing event on Saturday June 25 at the Hillsburgh Branch with details to come.”

“We are thrilled to be hosting the first Wellington County Writers’ Festival and we look forward to welcoming established and aspiring writers and members of our community looking to celebrate the written word,” Wagner said.

The call for applicants for a second edition of the festival will take place in January 2023. Visit the event page to learn more about the 2022 Wellington Writers Festival

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