Event Details:

September 23-25 // Various Locations // Brookings

Writers, readers, and literature lovers alike will gather in Brookings for the 20th Annual South Dakota Festival of Books.

“Our goal with the festival is to bring readers and writers together, so we focus on creating experiences for readers to get to meet those authors whose books they’ve enjoyed, to shake their hand, to get their book signed, and to ask them questions,” said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book.

Festival goers can meet their favorite and new authors, sit in on a book talk, or sit in on a writer’s support workshop.

Featured Events

» The Plague and Us: Writing Humor through Unfunny Times
Lorna Landvik and Sarah Stonich

» Why Everyone Should Read Science Fiction
Robert J. Sawyer

» I Hate to Tell You, but You’re Writing a Book
Mary Woster Haug and Amber Jensen

» South Dakota’s Mathis Murders: Horror in the Heartland
Noel Hamiel

» ReGENerating Our Land Requires GENerations of Farmers
Beth Hoffman

» The Cost of Oil: The Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline
Jasilyn Charger and Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys

» What Writers Can Learn from Cops and Criminals
Marc Cameron and Jim Reese

» Using Historical Fiction to Teach Public Health
Bonny Specker

» Staying the Course: Overcoming Adversity
Dick Beardsley

“We’ll have book talks, panels, poetry readings, and all kinds of ways for people to talk about the books they’ve written and are working on,” said Widman.

She adds that they plan to livestream some of their in-person events, so anyone who wants to be can be included.

“One thing we learned with our virtual festivals is that whether there’s a pandemic or not, in a state the size of South Dakota, people do appreciate being able to watch events online if they can’t travel,” said Widman.

“One that I’m really excited about is Emily St. John Mandel, who wrote the book Station Eleven, which has been made into a streaming series. It was really a popular book, and her new book is called Sea of Tranquility.” -Jennifer Widman

Genres covered at the festival include fiction, non-fiction, history and tribal writing, poetry, and children’s and young adult.

“We try to do things with different aspects of fiction like writing dialogue, working on plotting, what to do when you hit a wall and get stuck,” said Widman. “People find it very useful and very practical.”

Some workshops and talks are even more specific.

Young Readers Festival

September 22 // Washington Pavilion // Sioux Falls
September 23 // Children’s Museum of South Dakota // Brookings

“One thing that we almost always have is a writing workshop aimed specifically at veterans,” said Widman. “We bring in a writer who is also a veteran. This year it’s Colin Halloran, who is a U.S. Army vet.”

She says the goal is to help veterans and current service members to convey their stories.

“There are events in multiple locations, but we do have a hub at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center,” said Widman “We’ll have our exhibitors’ hall there with more than 50 booths. Those include local authors, publishers, and nonprofit organizations.”

“Within those genres, we try to have a wide variety of presenters. It’s important to us to have a good representation of Native American writers, a balance of male and female writers, and all those things.” -Jennifer Widman

Chat with representatives from South Dakota Historical Society Press, Ellis Press, Western Writers of America, a variety of authors from the region and beyond, and more.

“Both Friday and Saturday we’ll have our keynotes with some of our featured authors,” said Widman. 

Saturday night, there will be a special anniversary celebration for the 20th South Dakota Festival of Books and the South Dakota Humanities Council’s 50th year.

To end the event, gather at McCrory Gardens on Sunday for the Closing Celebration

“We’ll have authors that deal with seeds, food, and cultural traditions,” said Widman. “It will lead right into McCrory Gardens’ Party on the Porch, which has live music, food, and beverages. It’ll be a really fun way to wrap it up.”

For more information, visit SDHUMANITIES.ORG.

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