by Jordan Safranski
Thanks to all of our fantastic sponsors, volunteers, authors, presenters and, of course, attendees, we were able to put together another wonderful book festival for the second year running. Now that UntitledTown 2018 is behind us, we wanted to take the time to reflect.
Won’t you help us by taking this brief survey?
UntitledTown 2018 kicked off with Nicholas Carr’s festival keynote on Thursday, and ramped up to a spooky, Goosebumps-filled day with two R.L. Stine events on Friday. UntitledTown was lucky enough to celebrate 25 years of Goosebumps with over 1700 area school children at the morning event, and 1100 more fans in the evening. Afterwards, Stine stayed to sign every book, pair of PJ’s, and Slappy doll, and made sure everyone left happy.
There was a little bit of something for everyone spread across Saturday and Sunday of the festival with nearly 150 exciting weekend events. Saturday featured interactive workshops to get creative ideas (and, hopefully, a word or two) flowing, publishing talks and advice for aspiring authors, and author readings and signings from some pretty fantastic authors like José Orduña, Peter Geye, Kristen Radtke, and many more.
Our Book Fair offered merch and books and live signings from Festival authors— and across town, we even supported a live recording of Jason Gots’ literary podcast—click here to listen!
Best of all, this year we tripled our youth-centered programming, with activity stations for this little ones, and multiple workshops for youth writers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Panels and craft talks focused on writing for new readers, middle graders, and young adults. Emerging writers read at the College Invitational and a pop-up reading for UWGB’s Sheepshead Review.
Saturday’s excitement culminated in an evening keynote by Roxane Gay. It was a pleasure listening to Gay’s thoughts on a wide range of topics, including racial equality, social class, working out, cooking shows, Green Bay snowstorms, and Beyonce. Attendees and volunteers alike stuck around the KI Center and surrounding area to pick up a Roxane Gay book (or two) and stock up on UntitledTown 2018 swag. With UntitledTown water bottles, t-shirts, and festival posters in hand, everyone headed out for the night all to come back and do it all again the next day.
Sunday was such a fun-filled, exciting day, we almost forgot the end was near. Adults dined on a gourmet farm breakfast at Gather with Michael Perry, while Frank Johnson, an emerging poet from Las Vegas, kicked off Sunday’s kids’ events with a poetry workshop and reading— could there be anything cuter? —bright and early at ten a.m.. and the rest of the day consisted of panels with more Book Fair, more publishing talks, and more readings.
The evening closed with keynotes at two different locations: novelist Christopher Moore drew hundreds of loyal fans to his reading at West High School, while poet Danez Smith evoked laughter, tears— often both simultaneously—at their reading at the Brown County Library. We don’t think we’ve seen a poetry reading so impactful, hilarious, or well-crafted as Smith’s, and it was a fantastic way to end UntitledTown 2018.
UntitledTown 2018 was filled with more amazing contributors than we can count—novelists, poets, writers, creators, and lovers of all things literature. We were able to offer readings and workshops for experienced authors, as well as the younger generation of future writers, and we were able to bring together a group of people who all have a common interest and passion for literature, which is what UntitledTown is all about.
We know that UntitledTown meant something different to every individual that was able to be a part of the event. We are excited to fix our sights on next year’s festival and—we need your help to do that! If you loved this year’s book festival, or if you have comments on how we could improve for next year, please take the time to complete this quick survey.
And thank you for joining us in UntitledTown!