UntitledTown Book and Author Festival kicked off in Green Bay, Wisconsin for the second year with a flourish of activities and workshops. With sessions on publishing, illustration, and storytelling in all genres, this affair had something for everyone.
The festival began the afternoon of Thursday, April 19 and continued through Sunday evening. The event choices included keynote speaker presentations, author readings and signings, workshops about the craft of writing and getting books to market, an expansive book fair and more. Keynote speaker R.L. Stine, author of the wildly popular Goosebumps series and possibly the most successful children’s author of all time, was just one stop on the possible venue attractions. Although Stine spoke at the Weidner Center on the UWGB campus, the majority of activities were in the downtown district. The Brown County Library, Neville Museum, and KI Center carried the majority of seminars and workshops. In addition, Kavarna Coffeehouse held discussions for early risers and St. Brendan’s Inn hosted speakers in their cozy venues.
Trolley service provided easy access for the driving impaired or those with sustainability on their minds. UntitledTown’s volunteer force was sizeable and willing to help, and the venues were prepared and ready when you arrived. If it turned out that your chosen session wasn’t what you were looking for, the opportunity to walk down the hall and enter another was available.
Unlike the weekend before, the warm weather tried to convince you it was spring (even though the three-foot piled snow banks begged to differ). Smiles and shopping bags were on display at the book fair in Fort Howard Square on Broadway Street. The former skid row is now another shining star in the Green Bay crown. Eateries ranging from high-end dining to pub food and even a food truck were easily found. If wine was more to patrons liking, the Aardvark Wine Lounge sponsored author readings at their Pine Street location. Kavarna Coffeehouse held podcasting sessions and author/reader forums for those who liked to connect over a jolt of caffeine. I would certainly be remiss if I failed to mention that both sides of the Fox River offer unique shops, eateries, and craft breweries with tastings and tours for those whose strained eyes needed a break.
Joined by high school chums Ms. Becky Halstead and Mr. Phil Gospardorek, I spent Saturday reminiscing and attending seminars and having lunch together. For an ole’ backwoods wood tick like myself, this was the height of touristy behavior. The whole affair for the most part was free. Suggested donations of $30 were encouraged for those who wanted to meet and greet the authors for signings such as R.L. Stine, and a hundred or so people agreed this was a small price to pay to bring such an inspiring event to northeast Wisconsin.
For those writers looking for publishing hints, this festival abounds. How to self-publish, how to contact and approach a publishing house, the steps to take before publishing — UntitledTown provides a wellspring of information on these subjects from people who have lived it. It’s an awesome event, and, after two amazing years, I’m certain next year will continue to provide an inspiring hub for Wisconsin’s bibliophiles to gather.
Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.