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Eden Mills Writers' Festival celebrating Canadian literature for 9 months

The festival running from March to Novembers is online, free, provides closed captioning and ASL interpretations for events
Attendees fill the roads of Eden Mills in 2019. Anam Khan/GuelphToday file photo

What used to be a day long festival will now run until November.

For a second year in a row, the Eden Mills Writers' Festival has kicked off online. The online festival, which kicked off on March 2, is drastically different from the in-person festival focused on one summer day in the serene and picturesque village of Eden Mills.

“What we’ve done is taken all those events that would happen at one time, in one day, in one location and spread them out,” said Melissa McGrath, manager of the Eden Mills Festival.

“I think right now with the situation that we’re in in the pandemic, this is a wonderful way to connect with the literary community.”

McGrath said the event will continue to showcase Canadian writers and is a great opportunity to find out what is going on in the Canadian literary community. 

“All the books we’re showcasing are brand new so it's a wonderful way to get to know the authors and the books and the events are all interactive so you can ask the author questions.”

The online event includes book launches, panel discussions, book clubs and even specific events for children. Events will continue to be added to the online festival as dates and times become available. Information about upcoming and past events can be found here.  The next book launch will  be on April 25 where Andrew Forbes will be presenting his book The Only Way is the Steady Way.

All our events are free and we wanted them to be accessible for everyone. One of the really wonderful benefits of doing these wonderful events is that they are so much more accessible. 

“We provide closed captioning for the adults' events and ASL interpretation for all our children's events. They’re also just physically more accessible,” said McGrath.

“We have people watching our events from all across the country with audiences no longer limited to region. So that's very exciting and I think a lot more people are learning about Eden Mills and our festival.”

Pre-pandemic, the EMWF held scattered events across Eden Mills in residences' backyards. 

Because it’s unable to do that this year, the organizers thought promoting the event as 'In Your Own Backyard Event Series' would be a fun way to maintain the original feel of the in person event.

“It's kind of playful way to acknowledge where we typically are and where we are now,” said McGrath.

She said schools can also sign up classrooms to participate in events during the school year. 

“We’ve had a fantastic response,” said McGrath about previous events with students last year. 

“Last year we had an event with Kenneth Oppel and we had over 60 schools participating, so 60 classes from all over. So that was really exciting to have an audience of over 600 kids.”

The festival also launched a fundraising campaign to cover costs of the free event. 

“We are hoping that those who are able to donate can contribute to that so that we can continue to offer our programs for free,” said McGrath.