Things are going to be bigger and better for the second annual Word on The Street, Sept. 23. The day-long celebration of the written word, which is being held in conjunction with the Lethbridge Public Library, runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. all over downtown from Fifth Ave. South to Eighth Street , surrounding the downtown branch of the library.
“At the core it is a celebration of the written word, but we’ve tried to make sure it is from many different perspectives. It’s about diversity because the library itself is such a diverse organization,” said organizer Colette Acheson. There will be up to 52 exhibitors this year including food vendors, community organizations and, of course, a variety of authors reading from their works.
Some of the highlights include First Nations playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, who wrote “In A World Created By A Drunken God,” which New West Theatre performed last September. Plus, children’s/ young adult author Kit Pearson will be speaking as will CJ Carmichael, who has penned over 30 Harlequin romance novels.
Some of the authors won’t be speaking in person. “We’ll have a big television set for Skype interviews because we want to do stuff for teens,” Acheson continued. “Some authors will be speaking by Skype in the young adults lounge in the library— the only event the library itself will be hosting.
“We’ve got more streets this year, so we have more room,” she observed. She noted the stage will be next to Stafford Drive, so it won’t drown out the authors, whose tents will be set up along eighth street. There is a trimmed down schedule of performers, including Lethbridge improv group the Drama Nutz, metal band Shocked Standards, country/folk singer Karen Romanchuk, Shaela Miller and Treeline, Young Medicine (Curt Young and Jamie Medicine Crane), the Desert Wind Belly Dancers, R and B/ funk/ disco band Hippodrome, the Bryant Watson duo (Pete Watson and Joel Bryant) Jolene Draper and the Coal Creek Boys. Ample time as been scheduled for each act to tear down after their set and for the next one to set up.
“Last year they played 20 minute sets an there wasn’t any time in between. This year they will have 30-40 minute sets,” she said. There will be more diversity and we’re giving them more performance time,” she continued. The Coal Creek Boys frontman John Paul Smith is excited about playing Word on the Street.
“I think it is really important to get people back to reading books especially with the Internet,” Smith observed. The Coal Creek Boys write a lot of songs about the Coal Creek area of Eastern B.C, so Smith spends a lot of time researching. With three children, reading is all the more important.
“I research a lot, so I’ll go to the library and research a lot of history,” he said. He is pleased to play a home town gig. “It means a lot to play Word on The Street. Because when you’re touring, you don’t get a chance to play at home a lot,” he said, en route to Fort McMurray to play a three day gig at the Fort McMurray Casino.
They will be playing a lot of new music from their upcoming second CD. “We’re just about done it. I’m pretty proud of it,” he said.
Acheson is pleased with how well Word On The Street has come together this year. “We’re a little more organized this year,” she said adding last year they were accepting new authors and demonstrations up until the last minute, this year everything has been booked. “We had a lot of support from the city. It has just been so positive,” she enthused.
“We hope to do even more next year,” she said. “It’s been pretty amazing,” she continued. There are also a variety of activities and authors. The University of Lethbridge Medieval Club will be back this year performing fighting demonstrations. “They are also going to be doing a medieval cooking demonstration. There will be meat cooking on a spit throughout the day,” she continued.
In addition to authors, there will also be organizations including The Oldman Watershed group and the Alberta Literacy group setting up displays, plus Crazy Cakes Sweet Ideas and 10,000 Villages, who will have information booths set up. “We have lots of variety,” she continued. Word on The Street also has approximately 60 volunteers lending their time and energy to make the event a success.
Favourite mascots will be returning including Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George will also be on hand. There will also be several workshops and panels about a variety of topics including self-publishing, gardening, local history and quilting. “Overall, it‘s going to be a great event for the community. There is lots of stuff for people to see and try and learn about,” Acheson said.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor