I spent a good part of the weekend in the picturesque village of Eden Mills less than an hour’s drive west of Toronto, for the 23rd annual Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. What a wonderful festival. I drove down on Friday night with the hilarious writer, playwright, and broadcaster Erika Ritter. We both read at the Gala dinner that kicked off the festival. The audience was large, warm, and welcoming. After the after-party, Erika and I drove back to Toronto. This was truly a commuting festival for me as I made three trips in all.
The book table at Eden Mills efficiently managed by the good folks at The Bookshelf.
On the Saturday, I drove back to Eden Mills for the Author Dinner on the beautifully landscaped grounds of a volunteer’s home. Festival founder Leon Rooke spoke, we were serenaded by an amazing guitarist, and we ate until we could eat no more (at least , I did). It was great fun and very relaxing to be among so many wonderful writers and festival volunteers. It was during the Author Dinner that I crossed another threshold in my writing career. All writers hit these milestones as you progress in your journey. You know what I mean, your first book, your first reading, your first prize, the first time you see someone on the subway reading your book, etc., etc. Well at the Author Dinner, I was named in my first ever writer Port-a-Potty tweet. I’m not sure what to make of it but I think it means I’ve somehow “arrived” even though I had just “gone,” if you know what I mean.
On Sunday, it was another enjoyable commute to Eden Mills in the company of Erika Ritter. My reading was at 2:30, at the Mill. It’s a beautiful outdoor venue on the side of a gentle grass slope that runs down into the river. It seemed to go well, although the allotted 20 minutes flew by. I signed books at the outdoor book store afterwards and chatted with readers, which is always a favourite part of any festival.
There was another great dinner Sunday night as the proceedings wound down. They must have served a dozen different kinds of pie for dessert. I may have had a piece of each one but I can’t really remember now. I think it’s possible that I was drunk on pie.
Over the course of the weekend, I reconnected with lots of other writers and bookish people who I’d seen at other festivals and reading gigs including Drew Hayden Taylor, Robert Wiersema, Clare Hitchens, Andrew Pyper, Bill Deverell, Nino Ricci, John Vaillant and Alissa York. I also spent some time with writers I met at Eden Mills for the first time including the Booker longlisted Alison Pick, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Vyleta, Lorna Crozier, and Giller winner Johanna Skibsrud among others. It was my first time at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, but I really hope I get the chance to go back. My thanks to the more than 100 volunteers who made it all happen. Hope to see you next year…