Dawn Arnold: Frye Festival Diary

Jacob Berkowitz at KidsFest

Jacob Berkowitz at KidsFest

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday of the Festival is always a full day for me, but this year was as full as it could be! I began the day updating social media, and then received a message at 7:00 am that the person we had employed to coordinate KidsFest/FestiJeunesse was sick. I grabbed my daughter and our box of “swap” books and headed for the Moncton Public Library. The tables were set-up and the décor looked terrific, but we definitely needed one brain to oversee the activities, because it is quite the morning! The children (aged 2-12) and their families have been coming to KidsFest for years now (about 1,500 people participate in 2.5 hours) and expectations are high for a quality family event.

This year the children all received a free book (Let’s Go! The Story of Getting from There to Here) and a passport when they entered, so we decided to take the theme of transportation throughout the event.  They proceed to get stickers at all the stations around the library and the atrium. They start by swapping a book at our book swap (bring a book, take a book), proceed to the library’s table which this year focused on map making, played a bit of transportation bingo, learned some fascinating early transportation facts from interpreters from the Moncton Museum, watched four performances from students at the Capitol Theatre School of Performing Arts (four tragedies!), made their own boat at the craft table, participated in our read-a-thon, wrote their own poetry and of course, met authors during their readings and participated in writing workshops. It is a fun-filled morning. My absolute favourite part is the kids who have met the authors in their schools over the course of the week and have convinced their parents to bring them to KidsFest so that they can see the authors again. We were so privileged this year (as always!) to have fascinating children’s authors who do such a great job of making words fun for kids. Jacob Berkowitz, Cary Fagan, Christiane Duchesne and Nicole Daigle all stole the show!

As I was running back and forth between headquarters and the library I luckily bumped into Linden MacInyre, so I was able to thank him for coming and wish him well on his return and his next book.

At noon, I changed pace completely and ran over to Moncton City Hall for Noah Richler’s fascinating Antonine Maillet-Northrop Frye lecture entitled: What We Talk About When We Talk About War. I was able to video this lecture, so we will be posting on our site soon. Of course, we will publish the lecture as we always do in a bilingual format, with Goose Lane Editions.

I scooted out of there just before 2:00 pm in order to attend another of my favourite events, Budding Writers. This took place in the lobby of the Capitol Theatre and it was jammed when I got there with Grades 5-8 students and their families, friends and teachers. The kids were amazing! The diversity was incredible, poetry, personal journal, speeches and short stories. For many of the students, this was the first time that they had presented their work outside of school. What great and heartfelt subjects they presented — everything from suicide to taming dragons. I recognized one of the mom’s from her role at the university and she sent me this message on facebook last night:

That was a wonderful event today for my daughter Judith Bourque and myself. It was very well organized. I was very moved by all that talent, french and english. I just found out that my daughter wrote a note on the festival’s facebook page. She told me she had been dreaming for years to participate in that festival (she’s only 11, kind of cute).

This festival is really making a difference in the community.

Congratulations to you and your team!

I stayed for a few minutes to congratulate the kids, but I was already late for our new event, our “Literary Lounge”. This was in full swing in the lobby of the Delta Beauséjour, in and around the Festival Bookshop when I got there. What a wonderful crowd! All the authors were milling about, signing books and chatting with fans. We had two students from the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra playing some ambient music and we had a videographer set up, allowing the authors to tell us a bit about their Festival experiences. From all reports, this was a huge success and something we definitely need to repeat.

Christian Bök and I then joined a big group of Festival authors and groupies for a glass of wine (and I was able to speak with a New York journalist who was in town writing for Porter Airline’s in-flight magazine) and then proceeded to his dialogue with Fred Stenson. This was entertaining and congenial in Navigator’s Pub. Fred was very funny and quite charming.

I then had the good fortune to chat with a couple from Halifax that I had noticed had attended many of the events. It was great to get their impressions on the Festival and of course wonderful to hear how much they were enjoying all the events.

I had just finished reading Daniel Poliquin’s A Secret Between Us, so I was anxious to attend the Community Read featuring this book. Daniel spoke with journalist Jean Fugere about his book and in particular, his main character Lusignan, a character that I had found quite compelling and interesting.

Frye Jam was about to start, but I was starving, so when I saw Daniel Poliquin about to eat alone just downstairs from Frye Jam, I joined him. We had such a nice, rambling conversation and we were able to chat with Frye Jam stragglers over the course of the evening, such as Nino Ricci. Nino filled me in on his lunchtime book club (lunch with him was the prize for our winning book club!). I caught the tail end of Guy Marchamps’ excellent harmonica and poetry riff, but sadly, I missed most of the other performers. Frye Jam was still packed with people when I left around 1:00 am. What a day!

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One thought on “Dawn Arnold: Frye Festival Diary

  1. Lizann Flatt

    How wonderful, humbling, gratifying to hear that Let’s Go! was used to inspire all sorts of transportation activities for the kids. Sounds like it was an incredible festival all around.

    Lizann, author of Let’s Go!


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