The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Area venues present writers

Take a pinch of regional foods, a side of fiction, a dash of mystery, a glass of Cosmopolitan, a hint of history and smidge of war. Put them all together in a weekend and what you get is the 6th Annual Chippewa Valley Book Festival.

It’s a multi-faceted, modest festivalAlan Jenkins

The annual festival ushers in more than a dozen accomplished writers from several different topics of interest.

“What we try to do is get a variety of established writers,” co-founder and this year’s chairman Alan Jenkins said.

The festival has united businesses and establishments from across the Chippewa Valley from The Acoustic Caf‚ to the Chippewa Valley Museum and Regional Arts Center to L.E. Phillips Memorial Library. Even UW-Eau Claire has gotten in on the festivities with speakers scheduled on Friday for Schofield Auditorium.

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“I thought it would be a great attraction . educational and fun,” Acoustic Caf‚ manager Sandy Hartman said.

Instead of emphasizing a “headliner,” programming and reference librarian Bess Arneson said the festival invites several well-

known authors.

“We try to make everyone welcome in the same way,” she said. “However, Charles Baxter is perhaps the most internationally known.”

Baxter, author of novels such as “Saul and Patsy” and “The Feast of Love,” is a Minneapolis-born fiction writer. His work as an author has caught the eye of the literature department and students alike.

“I plan on going to Charles Baxter and Bruce Taylor,” senior Amanda Hill said. Based on what she’s heard from a buzz in the literature department, Hill said she’s taking advantage of the chance to see them in action.

Frank Smoot, the director of publications at the Chippewa Valley Museum, said lots of aspects should draw students to

the festival.

Toby Cecchini, author of “Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life,” might draw certain students from campus, Smoot said. Cecchini’s life as a bartender struggling to find his place might ring home for students.

“What happened in Eau Claire that drew me to the festival was that I opened my book with what I thought was the ideal bar, which is The Joynt on Water Street,” inventor of the cosmopolitan Cecchini said.

His father is an Eau Claire native and has been an artist for 25 years. Cecchini’s experiences while in Eau Claire drew him to become part of the festival.

“One of the reasons people wanted to include me was to talk about my journey to getting to where I am today,” he said.

Other writers added to the mix this year are cookbook writer Terese Allen who specializes in Wisconsin and regional foods.

“Allen is talking about Wisconsin food traditions and I think that’s something near and dear to us all,” Smoot said.

Also, poets Bruce Weigl and Denise Sweet are a part of the festival.

“Weigl is one of the most powerful poets writing today,” Jenkins said.

Weigl’s writings have been acclaimed and recognized nationally with the Patterson Poetry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes and an Academy of American Poets prize. His most well-known writings involve the impacts of war, Jenkins said, “but regardless of his politics, people should be interested in what he has to say.”

Denise Sweet is Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate and the first American Indian woman to be appointed that honor in the United States, Jenkins said.

Professor Bruce Taylor of the English department also adds to the mix with crime/mystery fiction writer David Housewright. In addition, historical and children’s writer Patty Pfitsch and young adult writer Will Weaver join the festival.

“We’ve got poetry, children’s, food and drink, fiction, mystery, young adult . authors of a very wide range,” Jenkins said. But more importantly, Jenkins said people have the opportunity to sit in the same room and have involved conversations with these authors.

As Smoot said, something that was always an appeal to him as a student is that there’s no registration and (other than the dinner/lunch) the festivities are free.

Opening with the Acoustic Caf‚ reading of four Eau Claire authors, Jenkins said, “It’s a non-stop call and response format that will knock your socks off.”

Cecchini said he’s really looking forward to the festival.

“I’ve been traveling a lot this year, but I’m excited on many levels,” Cecchini said. “I really hope to talk to students about my convoluted journey.”

Overall, Jenkins said there are a number of compelling reasons to attend.

“It’s a multi-faceted, modest festival,” Jenkins said, “and we hope to keep it that way.”

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