2017 Festival Wrap Up: Celebrating 15 Years of the Festival of Books

2017 One Book South Dakota Author J. Ryan Stradal signs his book "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" during his One Book Tour event in Rapid City Sept. 20 at the Racing Magpie. The event kicked off the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books, held in Rapid City and Deadwood Sept. 20-24.

The Premier Literary Event in South Dakota

By Ashley Kosters
SDHC Intern

The state's premier literary event, the South Dakota Festival of Books, celebrated its 15th year Sept. 20-21 in Rapid City and Sept. 22-24 in Deadwood. In addition, the South Dakota Humanities Council celebrated its 45th anniversary, and what better place to commemorate both than at the Festival of Books!

The Festival formally kicked off with an Author Reception in the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead on Thursday evening, where attendees conversed over drinks and appetizers while taking in the exquisite venue.

Heid Erdrich (sitting) speaks with Jerry Wilson and Norma Wilson at the Author Reception held at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead on Sept. 21 during the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books.

Workshops Galore

Both Friday and Saturday, attendees had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of writing workshops, which were hosted by authors such as Karen Abbott, Denise Kiernan, Alison McGhee, Molly Barari and Patrick Hicks.

Throughout Deadwood, the Festival provided all-day concurrent sessions to fit every interest. Attendees flocked to the Deadwood Mountain Grand on Saturday to hear author Denise Kiernan talk about her novel "The Girls of Atomic City: Life in a Secret City of the Manhattan Project." Also on Saturday, author and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang addressed the influence of varied literature on young children's lives.

Patrick Hicks speaks during a panel discussion with Joseph Bottum (to his left) and Jon Lauck (to his right) during the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books. The discussion, held Sept. 23 at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center, was called "Writing in and About the Midwest."

Happy Hour and an Emotional Evening

Happy Hour on Saturday allowed attendees the opportunity to win "Literary Loot," including books signed by the authors and even the opportunity to set up a Skype (or Facetime) session with their favorite authors.

Saturday's closing events provided a moving and emotional experience for all who attended. The evening began with the special screening from the PBS Documentary "The Vietnam War," followed by discussion with Ron Capps and veterans Larry Mayes, Brad Morgan, Craig Tschetter and Deb Delaney, who recounted their experiences during the Vietnam era. 

A special Screening of the PBS Documentary "The Vietnam War" was held at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center during the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books. It was followed by a discussion featuring with Ron Capps, director of the Veterans Writing Project, and Vietnam veterans Larry Mayes, Brad Morgan and Craig Tschetter.

'The Things They Carried'

Following the veterans panel, keynote speaker Tim O'Brien, author of "The Things They Carried," spoke about his family, literary and military experiences and their influence on his writing.

Tim O'Brien, a Vietnam veteran and author who is famous for "Going After Cacciato" and other war novels, presented Saturday night's keynote event at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center during the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books, "Timmy and Tad and Papa and I: Discussing Writing in General and Responding to Hemingway in Particular."

Brunch and Talking Grasslands with Linda Hasselstrom

On Sunday, Festival fans began their morning at the Book Lovers' Brunch. Following brunch, Linda Hasselstrom shared her expertise on the importance of preserving the grasslands through writing.

Special Events, Book Signings and Much More

With numerous special events, two book signings, and around 60 authors and illustrators selling their books in Exhibitors' Hall, attendees had many chances to meet their favorite authors and to add new authors to their favorites.

A reader browses Exhibitors' Hall at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center during the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

Thank You!

The South Dakota Humanities Council would like to thank all of the sponsors, venues, presenters, booksellers, volunteers, SDHC board members, our 2017 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winners, and everyone else who made the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books an incredible success! 

Thank you for attending our event. 

William Kent Krueger (left) and Jean Nicholson (right) pose with their 2017 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Awards with SDHC Executive Director Sherry DeBoer. Not pictured are winners Jace DeCory and the United Way of the Black Hills, which was honored for its Rapid City Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Initiative. 

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The Festival of Books is one of the many events the South Dakota Humanities Council provides to South Dakotans to promote the importance of reading, literacy, and the humanities in our society. 

Watch sdbookfestival.com for info on next year’s Festival September 2018 in Brookings and Sioux Falls. Click the button below to subscribe to our blog. You'll get additional coverage from the 2017 Festival, author announcements for the 2018 Festival and much more, right to your inbox!