Celebrating 15 Years: Humanties Montana’s Festival of the Book

By MATT ANGLEN

Missoula has long held a rich literary tradition, once dubbed the “Paris of the Nineties” by John Updike, our community has hosted such notable authors as Norman Maclean, James Welch, James Lee Burke and many more. So it’s no surprise that Missoula is also the home of Humanities Montana and their annual Festival of the Book

One of the biggest cultural happenings in the Northwest, the 15th annual Festival of the Book will take over downtown this weekend with nearly 60 literary events featuring over 80 authors, poets, and artists.

“The festival is such a great expression what makes Missoula so great! Thousands of readers milling about downtown Missoula for two days sharing their love of literature.”

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-Kim Anderson (Associate Director for Programs, Humanities Montana)

You can find the complete schedule online; however there are a few events that should not be missed.

If you’re familiar with James Lee Burke you’ll know that spending your lunch hour with him is well worth the $35 ticket. If you’re not familiar with him, this a great opportunity to discover a very talented and witty author, get a $10 coupon for the festival bookstore and enjoy delicious food from the Top Hat. The event is taking place at the Top Hat on Friday at 11:30 am. You can find tickets here.

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The 15th annual Gala Reading will take place on Saturday at 7:30 pm in the Historic Wilma Theater and feature Rick Bass, Malcom Brooks, David James Duncan, Pete Fromm, Tami Haaland, Walter Kim, William Kitteridge, Annick Smith and musical guest Stellarando. This is probably the classiest thing you will do all year, and it’s free to the public.

The festival extends beyond the humanities with the inclusion of Radius Gallery and their current group exhibition, “Wind & Bones”. The exhibit is an interartistic tribute to the works of James Welch featuring works from several local and regional artists. In addition to the visual art, Radius will host a karaoke style reading of the works of James Welch where audience members can join in the tribute alongside Lois Welch, Neil McMahon, Rober Sims Reid, and others. Head to Radius Gallery on Friday at 2:30 pm to get in on the action.

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In addition to performances and readings from local and nationally recognized authors, the festival offers up unique experiences for the aspiring author. Several workshops are on the schedule as well as the ability to talk with a number of western publishers.

Since 1972 Humanities Montana has been enriching the lives of Montanans and keeping our rich literary tradition intact. Their programs, grants, and other initiatives are vast and far reaching, with an overwhelming impact on the quality of life for every Montana citizen.

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Join us this weekend in celebrating our local authors, your love of reading, and the incredible accomplishments of one of Montana’s greatest cultural treasures.

The Festival of the Book takes place from October 9th through October 11th in a variety of venues across Missoula. Most events are free to the public. More information and schedules can be found here.

Visit the Missoula Cultural Council Blog for more information on Arts and Economic Development

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Matt Anglen HeadshotMatt Anglen is a prodigal Missoulian who has returned to the valley after a brief stint as a starving artist in the Windy City. He is currently the Program Director for the Missoula Cultural Council and lives with his wife and son at the base of MountJumbo.