Fall always finds students reminding themselves to crack open their overpriced textbooks and accept the inevitable hours that are soon to be spent in the library. Thankfully the third weekend in September marks the Word on the Street National Book and Magazine Festival that acts as a helpful reminder that reading can be fun.
Celebrating Canadian writers and advocating for literacy, Word on the Street began in Toronto 24-years ago. Saskatoon is preparing for its third annual year hosting the festival, which takes place in front of the Francis Morrison Library on Sept. 22.
Sponsored by the University of Saskatchewan, BHP Biliton and Scotiabank, the Word on the Street is hosting five tents this year and has something to offer everyone. With about 65 authors and writers — over 50 of whom are from Saskatchewan — the festival covers a wide variety of genres and interests to help show off our province’s vast talent.
“It’s an effort to bring the word to the general public,” said Mary Jane Cavello, director of the Word on Street festival in Saskatoon. “It’s to expose authors to their fans and for fans to basically see a little bit of of the inner workings of the publishing and literary world. There’s something for everybody of every age.”
Festival goers can enjoy readings, panel discussions and workshops from authors, writers and publishers.
This year’s lineup includes authors such as Guy Gavriel Kay, Will Ferguson and award winning science-fiction novelist Robert. J Sawyer. Other names to note include Saskatoon’s Yann Martel, historical romance writer Mary Balogh and Anthony Bidulka.
For a younger audience — or the young at heart — the Word on the Street also has the “Treasure Island tent,” which includes children’s authors and the children’s activity area “Literary Lane.”
While some authors stand out as bigger names, Cavello affirms that all participating are treated with equal importance. “Every author who attends the festival we consider a feature author and they’re all celebrated in one way or another,” she said.
The festival continues to grow in its third year in Saskatoon, with the addition of three new areas on site, including “Stage on the Street,” “Poetry on the Street” and “Stories on the Street.” There is also “Comic Book Lane,” hosted by 8th Street Books and Comics, where fans can stop by and watch as celebrated artists perform their work.
The festival also promises to attract foodies in Saskatoon with the exciting addition of the “Cooks ‘N’ Books” tent featuring Chef Michael Smith and the Looneyspoons Sisters as well as numerous other local cookbook authors.
New to the festival is Eat on the Street, which features local food trucks and restaurants offering up a palette of unique foods.
Despite an ever-broadening lineup of events and talent, the intention of the festival continues to be bringing out the inner reader in people and encouraging them to delve deeper into the world of books.
“The more light we can shed on the literary arts and our success here in Saskatchewan, I think the more excited people will get about what’s available to them,” Cavelle said.
For more information on the Word on the Street festival in Saskatoon, check out wordonthestreet.ca and take advantage of this free event on Sept. 22. Things kick off downtown with Saskatoon’s Community Afro-Brazilian Percusian Ensemble, Sambatoon, at 10:30 a.m.