Book Festival
Book Festival

By Molly Butler

Winters are long in Minnesota, and the frigid temperatures and Covid-19 restrictions have made it feel even longer.

Maud Hart Lovelace, a literary pillar of Mankato, knew the mixture of love and boredom that comes with these winters. In her famous Betsy-Tacy series, she wrote about how Betsy “opened her book and forgot the world again. She looked up suddenly from ‘The Miraculous Pitcher’ to see flakes coming past the window.” As all booklovers know, a good book can make time fly.

The Deep Valley Book Festival, which gets its name from the book series, decided to help break up the long winter. The usually once-a-year festival has prepared a special Cabin Fever Edition. This free, 2-day virtual event will take place March 6th and 7th, and the DVBF has a little something for everyone.

Submitted Image - 2021 Deep Valley Book Festival
Submitted Image – 2021 Deep Valley Book Festival

Virtual Benefits

Like the 2020 Deep Valley Book Festival, the Cabin Fever edition will be held completely virtually. Julie Schrader, a local author and historian who organized the first DVBF in 2005 as a fundraiser for the Betsy Tacy Society, said the virtual format has created some new opportunities.

“It allows us to have more authors participate from across the country, and more attendees,” said Schrader.

“We are the only book festival in southern Minnesota. This is the first time we’ve ever held a ‘mid-year’ event, and we’re really doing it because of the pandemic,” said Rachael Hanel, local author and professor of Mass Communications at MSU Mankato. “People are stuck at home and reading more, and this gives them a chance to connect with readers and writers.

Submitted Photo - Deep Valley Book Festival
Submitted Photo – Deep Valley Book Festival

The event will kick off with a live welcome, followed by panels and conversations throughout the two days, covering everything from networking to how to make a living from writing to publishing options. There will also be workshops like “So You Want to Write Memoir?” and “The Ins and Outs of Mystery Writing” as well as drawings and special announcements throughout the event.

Key-note speaker and award-winning author, Margi Preus, will discuss her life, her writing, and her books. Preus is a finalist for the 2021 Minnesota Book Awards. The DVBF has a solid history of hosting Minnesotan key-note authors, including Lorna Landvik, Mary Casanova, Freya Manfred, William Durbin, Faith Sullivan, Allen Eskens, David Geister, Matt Goldman, Jacqueline West, and Derek Anderson.

Although the event is completely virtual, some of the Zoom meetings will have limited space, so attendees are encouraged to register in advance. Those who register are entered to win free books during the live giveaways.

Something for Everyone

Book lovers of all ages, new writers or established authors will find something of interest at the Cabin Fever festival.

“We’ve got something for everybody; readers looking for new authors and books, and
writers looking to reach new readers or network with other authors,” said Schrader.

This event is a great opportunity for new authors looking for a place to share their work. Interested authors can simply reach out via Authors pay a small fee to participate, but keep all the proceeds from book sales, making this event perfect for new faces on the scene.

Submitted Photo - Deep Valley Book Festival 2019
Submitted Photo – Deep Valley Book Festival 2019

“Authors don’t have a lot of money to spend to promote their books, so we want to make sure it’s affordable for everyone to participate,” said Schrader.

The New Book Showcase will highlight recent publications from participating authors. Since not all participating authors are able to join in on the panels, it’s best to check out the DVBF Cabin Fever Author Directory to see them all.

Young Writer and Artist Competition

The Deep Valley Book Festival is also host of the Young Writer Competition and Young Artist Competition. The competitions are open to ages 7-18 and there are cash prizes for the winners. Awards are presented at the live DVBF on October 2, 2021. The winning stories and artwork are also printed in an Anthology available at the festival and on the DVBF website. Rules and the entry form can be found on their website. The deadline to enter is June 30, 2021.

Submitted Photo - Deep Valley Book Festival 2018
Submitted Photo – Deep Valley Book Festival 2018

Festival Friends

The DVBF is planned and operated entirely by volunteers; local authors, publishers, and book lovers. While the group is not technically a non-profit, all proceeds feed right back into the festival, sustaining the organization into the future. While Minnesota boasts many talented writers, Deep Valley remains the only literary book festival in southern Minnesota. Their goal is to get Minnesotan writers into the spotlight and promote the local literary community.

DVBF is funded by sponsors, festival friends and a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. If you’d like to become a festival friend, head to their sponsor page. Everyone registered as a festival friend by March 5, 2021 will be entered for chances to win a DVBF Friendship Bag filled with signed books donated by Cabin Fever authors.