If you’re a lover of words — in printed form and otherwise — you’ll want to mark Saturday, Sept. 21 on your calendar.
That’s when the annual The Word On The Street festival returns to the Lethbridge Public Library (main branch downtown). It’s part of a national celebration of literacy, storytelling and the literary arts that also has festivals in Toronto (where it began in 1989), Halifax and Saskatoon. The festival is into its ninth year in Lethbridge.
As usual, this year’s WOTS festival features a stellar lineup of authors, illustrators and performers from across Canada. The all-ages event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes informative panel discussions, demonstrations and workshops, live music, lots of activities and a bustling marketplace.
The featured performer this year is well-known children’s entertainer Fred Penner, who will be at the University of Lethbridge Bookstore Tent from 2-3 p.m., and performing on the B93 and Country 95 Music Stage from 4-4:45 p.m.
A Member of the Order of Canada and Member of the Order of Manitoba, Penner has released 13 albums and earned 10 Juno Award nominations, with three wins. He spent 12 seasons (nearly 950 episodes) hosting the hit CBC TV show “Fred Penner’s Place,” and was first children’s performer to headline the Los Angeles Amphitheater.
The lineup of authors includes stand-up comic Michael McCreary, who wrote “Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum.” McCreary, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age five, will appear on the Teen Zone Stage from noon to 1 p.m. His memoir provides a compelling read for young readers with ASD seeking voices to relate to, as well as for readers wanting to broaden their understanding of ASD.
Other authors scheduled to be part of the festival include:
• Karen Anderson, a Taste Canada award-winning cookbook author and owner of Alberta Food Tours, Inc.
• Erin Bow, a former physicist turned poet and writer of novels for young people. Her first novel, “Plain Kate,” won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and was nominated for the, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award and the Sunburst Award. A Kitchener, Ont. resident, she has also written “Sorrow’s Knot” and two critically acclaimed science-fiction books, “The Scorpion Rules” and “The Swan Riders.”
• Eileen Cook of Vancouver, a multi-published author whose books have been optioned for film and television and include “With Malice,” “The Hanging Girl” (winner of the John Spray Mystery Award) and “You Owe Me a Murder.”
• Anne Emery of Halifax, N.S., named “one of Canada’s finest novelists” by the Ottawa Review of Books. A lawyer and the author of the Collins-Burke mystery series, she has won an Arthur Ellis Award, an Independent Publisher Book Awards silver medal, and a Dartmouth Book Award. “Though the Heavens Fall” is her 10th novel.
• Susan Forest, an award-winning fiction editor who finds fast-paced adventure stories a great place to explore how individuals grapple with complex moral decisions. She has also published over 25 short stories and has appeared at many international writing conventions.
• Hazel Hutchins of Canore, who has written moe than 50 books for children and young adults and has received numerous awards for her work including her latest picture book, “Anna at the Art Museum” (2018).
• Audrey J. Whitson of Edmonton, whose first book, “Teaching Places,” a memoir about how the land teaches, was shortlisted for the Wilfred Eggleston Award, Grant MacEwan Author Award and ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year (body/mind/spirit category). Her latest book is “The Death of Annie the Water Witcher by Lightning.”
The festival also features discussion panels focusing on self-publishing and “Writing for the Love of Food,” along with workshops including a Postcard Perspectives writing workshop with Erin Dingle and a Zines workshop with Claire Reid. The lineup also features comic book writer J. Torres, Plains Cree writer/illustrator Kyle Charles, and local cartoonist Eric Dyck.
Find out more about The Word On The Street festival at http://thewordonthestreet.ca/lethbridge/