By Barb Brouwer
The comments tell the story; the 19th Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival was a great success.
A sprinkling of written feedback spoke of “fantastic and well-organized workshops – organized, informative and most of all, encouraging: a very inclusive atmosphere; lots of useful, inspiring info, and awesome, exceptional! a memorable time.”
Other registrants praised Shuswap Association of Writers volunteers, who hosted the festival at Sorrento Centre from April 30 to May 1. And many enthusiastically applauded the entertainment provided on Friday night, with author readings at Café Lit. Saturday night performances by multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and very funny Ed Peekakoot and a side-splitting routine by comedian Charlie Demers drew rave reviews. Also popular was a singalong led by author and poet Anne Fleming.
Neskonlith knowledge-sharer Louis Thomas offered a warm Secwépemc welcome Saturday morning, followed by appropriately clad-in-black, award-winning author and Shuswap homie Gail Anderson-Dargatz, who provided a hilarious eulogy to Covid 19 and the isolation it imposed.
Many of the talented presenters and registrants expressed their joy at being at a live event after two years of Zoom meetings.
“I felt a little like a bear coming out of hibernation after a long winter,” said Anderson-Dargatz. “The festival was nothing short of a celebration, that we had not only weathered the crisis, but found innovative ways to write and publish during it, and perhaps became stronger writers for it.”
Norma Dunning, whose latest collection of stories, Tainna, won the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction in 2021, said the live festival and its setting filled a longing she has had over the past two years.
“Too many fests have been on Zoom and you can not gauge nor engage with the audience in a way that matters,” she said.
Thrilled the event drew close to 100 people, festival chair Kay Johnston called the presenters engaging, knowledgeable and entertaining. She noted that registrants came from across Canada and, for the first time, from the U.S.
“The festival is spreading its wings,” she said, noting Sorrento Centre was a very relaxing venue and that people were networking well and enjoying exchanges between authors as well as registrants.
“Support from the community was outstanding,” she said, noting generous sponsors included this newspaper, Askew’s Foods, the City of Salmon Arm, Shuswap Community Foundation, SASCU, Federation of BC Writers and Simon Fraser’s Creative Writing Department.
Two local realtors scored prizes in a fundraising raffle: Tina Cosman won a one-week stay at a Canmore resort and Linda Clark won a weekend at the same resort. Tanya Atkinson won tickets to next year’s festival, which will be the Shuswap Association of Writers’ 20th annual.
For more information on the association and the annual festival, go online to wordonthelakewritersfestival.com.
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