The Word on the Street Festival
The Word on the Street Festival was back for its 24th year and once again took over Queen’s Park in Toronto. This event, held simultaneously in four other cities across Canada, is a champion for reading and was created as a vehicle to showcase the very best of this country’s literary scene. This popular free street festival is held every September and features a large marketplace, established and emerging authors, books, poetry, magazines, newspapers, and children’s entertainment. There is something for every taste and interest.
Throughout the park, several tents and stages were set up to showcase the many genres of writing, authors presenting their latest works, author signings, and activities geared towards children to help foster their educational interest in reading.
The TVOKids Stage lead the KidStreet Programming and featured favourite personalities from TVOKids and offered a fun-filled day of literacy-based entertainment for the kids. A Children’s Activity Tent featured crafts and activities based around new children’s books, and the TD Children’s Literature Tent presented some of Canada’s most popular authors and illustrators for this age group.
Headlining the Bestsellers Stage this year was Giller Prize-winning author Jospeh Boyden presenting his latest book The Orenda. Recently long-listed for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize, The Orenda tells a tale set nearly 400 years in the past in what is now the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, as a murder sets in motion conflicts between The Huron Nation, The Iroquois, and a Jesuit missionary attempting to lead them to Christ. Sure to be a gruesome yet beautiful portrait into the early history of this country, The Orenda will solidify Joseph Boyden as one our greatest writers.
Also gracing the Bestsellers Stage this year was James Cunningham, host of Food Network’s hit show Eat St. James shared stories from his travels all across North America and England searching for the very best food trucks and street food offerings. He also presented his cookbook filled with recipes from some of the most popular trucks featured on the show.
The last speaker of the day on the Bestsellers Stage was author D.J. McIntosh discussing the latest book in her Mesopotamian Trilogy called The Book of Stolen Tales. This series is a set of adventures rooted in old artifacts and ancient Middle Eastern lore.
The perennial favourite Mystery Hour was back again this year at the Remarkable Reads Tent presented by Random House of Canada Ltd. This year’s guests featured audience favourite and former Toronto Star columnist Linwood Barclay, back with his latest bestseller A Tap on the Window, Joy Fielding, presenting her latest work Shadow Creek, Maureen Jennings, author of the popular Murdoch Mysteries series, with her latest Beware This Boy, and Howard Shrier with his book Miss Montreal. Each author read a short passage from their book, sat for a panel discussion on the genre, and did a book signing to meet their fans.
The Funny Men event, also held at the Remarkable Reads tent, proved to be popular with the crowd. This year’s guest authors were internationally-renowned comedian Colin Mochrie, Terry Fallis, winner of both the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the 2011 Canada Reads Award from the CBC, and Andrew Kaufman, also a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
Colin read from his new book being published this October called Not Quite the Classics, in which he has taken the first and last lines from familiar classic stories and rewrites everything that happens in between.
Terry read from his latest book Up and Down, which tells the story of David Stewart as he realizes his new job at a public relations firm is a big change from his days on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Andrew Kaufman’s latest book Born Weird tells the story of the Weird family and the grandmother who gave each of her five grandchildren special powers upon their birth.
After finishing their reading, each author then sat for a meet-and-greet with fans and signed copies of their books.
For those interested in the craft of writing and looking to become a published author, the Wordshop Marquee tent offered seminars and workshops featuring established writers and faculty from the Humber School for Writers. Aspiring creators had the opportunity to interact with successful authors and were able to receive answers to all their questions about the publishing world.
Other events on offer included the Great Books Marquee tent which showcased a dynamic range of exciting titles in the fiction, non-fiction, short-stories, and poetry genres, the Nothing But the Truth tent where readers discovered the best in non-fiction literature, the Toronto Book Awards tent which featured the nominees of this literary award, the Toronto Star tent offering interesting discussions from some of its most popular writers, and the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent which celebrates the great writing being produced in this province.
The Marketplace is a series of vendors that offered great deals on books and magazines from various book sellers and publishers. It allowed crowds to go hunting for the hottest new titles directly from such publishers as Random House, Scholastic Inc, HarperCollins Publishers, House of Anansi Press, and Harlequin, or to dig through the offerings from BMV Books, a great used book store with several locations around Toronto. It’s always easy to rack up a heavy load of great books for great prices so remember to bring a bag!
The Word on the Street Festival is always a book lover’s paradise. Each year, avid readers are treated to the very best in Canadian authors and the hottest literature of the season, all thanks to the wonderful and generous sponsors who offer their support and share the belief that reading is important. The festival offers more events than one person could possibly attend in a single day but it allows unique opportunities to discover something new. The enduring popularity of the event demonstrates just how important reading and literacy are to the people of this city and ensures the continued grow in the years to come.