Friday, August 08, 2008

Woody Point events remain 'tough ticket' : Western Star article

Woody Point events remain 'tough ticket'
The Western Star

The Writers at Woody Point Literary Festival is heading into its fifth straight sell-out year.

The tremendous success of the weeklong event has been a pleasant surprise to organizers, but has unfortunately left many would-be festival-goers without tickets. Despite the overwhelming demand, organizers say that they aren’t looking to make any great expansions to the festival anytime soon. Tickets for this year’s Writers of Woody Point Literary Festival sold out on May 11 — 30 minutes after going on sale.

“It’s our fifth year and we’re still kind of in shock with how successful it’s been,” said event co-ordinator Gary Noel. “A lot of people who are going are going every year.”

That demand has left organizers feeling the push for expansion, said Noel, and festival associate Steve Brunt. According to Noel and Brunt, while the push has led to some changes, including an extension of the number of days the festival runs, no further extensions or drastic addition should be expected anytime soon.

“I wish I could sell tickets to everyone who wants one,” said Brunt, “but you can’t get too big.”The festival is a hot ticket for artists as well as audiences. “We’ve pretty much got our pick now of who we want,” said Brunt.

To decide on who is invited, the festival committee first looks at artists with a new work currently, or soon-to-be, in circulation. Then, the personalities themselves are considered.

This year includes a many well-known poets, novelists, journalists and musicians. The list of writers includes Gordon Pinsent, Don McKay, Kenneth J. Harvey and mystery author Kathy Reichs. The musicians include Hey Rosetta, Ron Hynes, Figgy Duff and Sylvia Tyson. The festival will be hosted by Shelaugh Rogers.

“It’s not like it’s a big-money thing,” added Brunt, pointing out that the festival is really a chance to bring artists to the community and the community to the artists, with no room for egos. “You want people who appreciate the place.

”The high demand for festival access by visitors, meanwhile, has prompted initiatives by organizers to keep events local.According to Noel, organizers try to centre events around the 100-year-old Woody Point Heritage Theatre. The 150-seat festival home creates a shared experience — a feeling of closeness — that has become the trademark for the small-town event.

“Many of the people booking tickets book them for as many evenings as they can get,” said Noel. “By the end of the week they all know each other.”

The communal feeling extends well beyond the walls of the theatre, he added, with authors and musicians speaking with visitors at local restaurants and craft shops and festival visitors stopping in to businesses throughout the area.

Read the rest of this article here.


Don McKay's latest release is Songs for the Songs of Birds, a selection of poems on the themes of birds, birding and flight read by the author and accompanied by bird song recordings (Rattling Books).