Literary festival continues to grow, connect

Wil Petty Staff Writer

September 16, 2013

The Sixth Annual On the Same Page Literary Festival provides a time for the community to celebrate reading and writing and it gets started this week.

“(The festival) is a way of generating discussion, dialogue and meaningful interactions for the public,” said Jane Lonon, president of the Ashe County Arts Council. “It is also a strong tourism piece, because it spans five days and attracts folks to Ashe County for the festival.”

Lonon said the festival continues to grow every year. This year, the festival runs from Tuesday, Sept. 17 through Saturday, Sept. 21.

“(On the Same Page) began small with just a couple of events,” Lonon said. “It has grown slowly and steadily over these six years.”

Originally, the event came to fruition following renovations of the Ashe County Public Library and wanting to bring more people to the facility.

“It started as one of those serendipitous happenings of informal dialogue,” Lonon said. “The library had just finished its renovation and was looking for more ways to showcase their wonderful facility.”

Lonon said that the Ashe County Arts Council had a long tradition of showcasing the literary arts as part of the county’s culture.

This year, On the Same Page is taking on the theme of “Secrets.” Lonon said themes are used as a way to tie the event together within a common thread.

While there is a common thread, the event remains diverse enough to draw in literature lovers of all kinds. There are different discussions and talks on poetry, fiction and nonfiction works.

“Each year the festival has a very diverse lineup of authors with different topics, subject matters and styles of writing,” Lonon said. “We like to say that there is something for everybody.”

The different events within the subjects are diverse as well. Moderated panels will take place where authors will discuss various secrets in their writing, and luncheons will provide festival-goers who signed up for these events a chance to have conversations with the various authors.

Lonon said each event is small enough that she feels people will see them as being a personal and meaningful experience.

“The authors enjoy getting to know our public just as much as we get to enjoy knowing them,” she said. “They make some very special connections.”

Authors at this year’s event include D.G. Martin, Kevin Duffus and Dot Jackson, the author of “Refuge,” which was chosen as this year’s community read.

“From Tuesday to Saturday it is a nonstop event with a variety of authors to entertain, challenge and enrich the written word,” Lonon said.

Lonon said there have been three authors who have already been confirmed for the festival in 2014. These authors will be named at the “On the Same Plate” luncheon Saturday at noon.

“It is great that authors are willing to commit that far in advance for us, they want to be here,” she said.

After six years, the event looks to be one that is here to stay. As it continues to gain recognition, Lonon said it’s become a great excuse for people to come visit the High Country.

“I see continued growth, stability and this being a way to continue making the literary arts an important way of life in Ashe County,” Lonon said.