The annual Word on the Street Festival returns to the Lethbridge Public Library for an eighth year on Saturday, Sept. 22, once again celebrating literacy with a wide assortment of attractions for all ages.
Running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. rain or shine at the library’s main branch downtown, the biggest literacy event in southern Alberta features stages for adults, teens and youngsters, along with family activities including a scavenger hunt. There will be live music throughout the day, along with displays, workshops and panels. In an effort to expand the inclusivity of the event, there will also be two stages featuring closed captioning as well as an English as a Second Language interpreter.
These latest additions are the result of the library “just responding to the evolving needs of our community,” said Elisabeth Hegerat, who has served as the festival director the past four years.
“We’re always trying something new every year,” added Hegerat. “The heart of the festival stays the same. It is a literary festival celebrating the unspoken word.”
The Friends of the Lethbridge Public Library will be operating a second-hand book store during the festival as a fundraiser for the library. The library will also be conducting a teen writing contest, and free library memberships will be available during the festival.
The library has once again rounded up a star-studded author lineup for the event.
“We always have a long wish list,” Hegerat said of the search for participating authors. “We don’t always get everybody we hoped for.”
When they don’t, they try again the next year.
This year’s all-Canadian lineup features authors literally from coast to coast — from Vancouver to Halifax.
“It’s a great chance to meet a favourite author or discover somebody new,” Hegerat said.
The list of participating authors includes Alberta author Angie Abdou, whose seventh book, “Home Ice,” looks at the life of hockey moms. Toronto’s Joy Fielding, a New York Times, best-selling author, is the writer of the new book “The Bad Daughter: A Novel.” Pauline Dakin of Halifax is the author of “Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood,” while Vancouver’s Faith Erin Hicks has just released the graphic novel “The Divided Earth,” the third and final instalment in her “Nameless City” trilogy.
Roy MacGregor, author of hockey books including the popular “Screech Owls” youth mystery series, has been described by the Washington Post as “the closest thing there is to a poet laureate of Canadian hockey.
The lineup includes Martin Parnell, author of “Running to the Edge” and “Marathon Quest,” is an acclaimed marathoner and originator of the “Quest for Kids” initiative. A new book, “Secret Marathon,” is due out in October.
The Word on the Street festival is celebrated in communities across the country and Hegerat has been involved in the Lethbridge festival since its inception. She has seen it grow from the first festival into an event to which people look forward weeks in advance.
“It’s nice to hear that people are looking forward to it and are excited about it again this year,” said Hegerat. “We’re happy to have our longtime fans return.”
Hegerat is happy to be a part of the event.
“It’s always really gratifying to make this festival happen,” she said.
An event of that magnitude requires a lot of people to run smoothly and the library always welcomes volunteers who are willing to lend their time to help out.
“We definitely appreciate volunteers,” Hegerat said.
Anyone interested in assisting with the Word on the Street festival can go to the festival website at thewordonthestree.ca/lethbridge and click on the “Get involved” menu item.