Thousands Flock to S.D. Festival of Books in Brookings, Sioux Falls

Busy Weekend of Books: Pulitzer Winners, International Bestsellers Draw Standing-Room Only Crowds

More than 60 high-caliber authors presented at more than 100 sessions at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books, which featured events covering a broad range of topics. 

The Festival, held Sept. 20-23, was well-attended, with 8,500 total session attendees packing venues in Sioux Falls and Brookings. The members of these enthusiastic crowds were in for a treat as the 2018 Festival featured an unprecedented conglomeration of talent.

From internationally famous Alice Sebold, whose book "The Lovely Bones" sold millions of copies worldwide and was made into a major motion picture directed by Peter Jackson, to Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Timothy Egan, the renowned Festival presenters left attendees star-struck with their engaging presentations.

Young Readers Wednesday

2018 Young Readers One Book SD Author Kara LaReau speaks to children at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.

2018 Young Readers One Book S.D. Author Kara LaReau speaks to children at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.

2018 Young Readers One Book author Kara LaReau had a theater full of third-graders on their feet for much of her presentation at the Washington Pavilion on Wednesday, Sept. 19, where she kicked off Young Readers events for the Festival. The children, who'd received a copy of her "Infamous Ratsos" children's book, cheered loudly throughout the event.

LaReau spoke about her writing process, her upcoming books, and much more.

Thursday: Author Reception, Young Readers & More

Young Readers events continued on Thursday in Sioux Falls and Brookings, with LaReau and other renowned children's authors like Laura Geringer Bass, Joseph Marshall III and Michael Hall presenting on various topics.

Author Jess Lourey and others celebrate the opening of the 2018 SD Festival of Books at the Author Reception.

Author Jess Lourey and others celebrate the opening of the 2018 S.D. Festival of Books at the Author Reception.

Festival fans packed the SDSU Alumni Center, Woster Celebration Hall on Thursday, Sept. 20 to mingle with Festival authors and enjoy hors d'oeuvres and drinks. The authors took turns telling the audience about their work and their Festival sessions.

Friday: Writing Workshops and Standing Room-only Crowds

2018 Festival author Alice Sebold, whose

2018 Festival author Alice Sebold, whose "The Lovely Bones" sold millions of copies and was featured as a major motion picture, speaks for a standing-room only crowd at the SDSU Student Union in Brookings.

Friday, Sept. 21 was the first full day of events for adults, starting with workshops and concurrent sessions in the morning in downtown Brookings, on the SDSU campus and more.

Patrick Hicks, Jess Lourey, Ann Weisgarber and other authors led workshops about plotting, genre, and other aspects of writing.

Meanwhile, it was standing room-only for internationally famous author Alice Sebold and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Fraser at the SDSU Student Union. Sebold told her audience, made up largely of SDSU students, that after she was raped as a college freshman, she felt obligated to "tell her story and put it out there." She spoke about dealing with her experience and creating a "singular story" for her book "The Lovely Bones."

2018 Pulitzer Prize winner and Festival of Books author Caroline Fraser speaks to a full audience about her award-winning work,

2018 Pulitzer Prize winner and Festival of Books author Caroline Fraser speaks to a full audience about her award-winning work, "Prairie Fires," a biographical account of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Pulitzer winner Annette Gordon-Reed, acclaimed veterans' author David Abrams and digital storytelling expert Andy Boyle also received enthusiastic welcomes from their presentation audiences.

Annette Gordon-Reed speaks to 2018 S.D. Festival of Books patrons about her Pulitzer Prize-winning work,

Annette Gordon-Reed speaks to 2018 S.D. Festival of Books patrons about her Pulitzer Prize-winning work, "The Hemingses of Monticello."

Festival patrons flooded Exhibitors' Hall for the Early Bird Mass Book Signing on Friday at 3:30 p.m. following afternoon sessions featuring Boston Marathon winner and author Amby Burfoot, South Dakota authors Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson and many others.

Festival fans flock to Exhibitors' Hall at First United Methodist Church Community Life Center during the 2018 S.D. Festival of Books.

Festival fans flock to Exhibitors' Hall at First United Methodist Church Community Life Center during the 2018 S.D. Festival of Books.

Late Friday afternoon, Festival fans also had a chance to enjoy the nice weather while sampling wine during an event at Shadé Vineyard & Winery in Volga, “Wine Tasting & Book Talk - From the Prairie to the Bottle: Fruit Wines & Family Traditions” featuring Denise DePaolo and Kara Sweet. 

“Wine Tasting & Book Talk - From the Prairie to the Bottle: Fruit Wines & Family Traditions” featured authors Denise DePaolo and Kara Sweet, as well as wine tasting for Festival fans.

"Wine Tasting & Book Talk - From the Prairie to the Bottle: Fruit Wines & Family Traditions" featured authors Denise DePaolo and Kara Sweet, as well as wine tasting for Festival fans.

Sebold and 2018 One Book Author Thomas E. Patterson led the evening events at the SDSU Performing Arts Center. Patterson discussed the state of the media in 2018 and his book "Informing the News."

Thomas E. Patterson, the 2018 One Book S.D. Author of

Thomas E. Patterson, author of the 2018 One Book S.D., "Informing the News," delivers his keynote lecture at the SDSU Performing Arts Center, Larson Memorial Concert Hall.

Sebold conversed with SDPB's Lori Walsh about her life experiences that led to the creation of her bestselling novel, "The Lovely Bones." Walsh and Sebold had several serious moments but also some lighthearted banter, and Sebold gave the audience an inside look at what it was like to have her book turned into a major motion picture.

Alice Sebold and SDPB's Lori Walsh during Friday night's presentation at SDSU Performing Arts Center: “The Great American Read Special Event: An Evening with Alice Sebold.

Alice Sebold and SDPB's Lori Walsh during Friday night's presentation at SDSU Performing Arts Center: "The Great American Read Special Event: An Evening with Alice Sebold."

SDHC executive director Sherry DeBoer and SDHC board member Eric Abrahamson also distributed the 2018 "Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities" awards to winners Joseph Marshall III, Maria Gruener, Patrick Hicks and Maree Larson (representing Larson Family Foundation).

The 2018 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winners gather for a photo following the awards ceremony.

The 2018 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winners gather for a photo following the awards ceremony. From left to right, SDHC Board member Eric Abrahamson, SDHC executive director Sherry DeBoer, and award winners Joseph Marshall III, Patrick Hicks, Maria Gruener and Maree Larson (on behalf of Larson Family Foundation). 

Saturday: Media Discussion and More

Media experts  Jacqui Banaszynski, Andy Boyle, Linsey Davis, Thomas E. Patterson during Saturday's session, “Modern Media: How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go Now?”

From left to right, media experts Thomas E. Patterson, Andy Boyle, Jacqui Banaszynski and Linsey Davis discuss the state of the media during Saturday's session, "Modern Media: How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go Now?"

Saturday was a full day of concurrent sessions ranging from mystery writers to children's authors and media experts, including well-known journalists Timothy Egan and Linsey Davis.

Davis, an ABC News Correspondent, appeared in a session with South Dakota author Joseph Bottum at the Children's Museum of South Dakota, where they discussed their collaborative children's book.

Linsey Davis and Joseph Bottum during their Saturday session “The World is Awake: Writing for Young Children” at the Children's Museum of South Dakota in Brookings.

Linsey Davis and Joseph Bottum during their Saturday session "The World is Awake: Writing for Young Children" at the Children's Museum of South Dakota in Brookings.

Nate Blakeslee and Jim McMahon's collaborative event "American Wolf: The Saga of O-Six, the Most Famous Wolf in the World" was the first of two evening keynotes at the First United Methodist Church. The two discussed Blakeslee's book "American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West."

Nate Blakeslee and SDHC board member Jim McMahon during Saturday evening's presentation, “American Wolf: The Saga of O-Six, the Most Famous Wolf in the World.

Nate Blakeslee and SDHC board member Jim McMahon during Saturday evening's presentation, "American Wolf: The Saga of O-Six, the Most Famous Wolf in the World."

Saturday's events concluded with Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award winner Egan, a columnist for the New York Times, speaking with fellow Pulitzer winner Jacqui Banaszynski about how media content has changed over the years. Egan also spoke in the the morning about his book on the Great Depression, "The Worst Hard Time." 

Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jacqui Banaszynski and Timothy Egan discuss a variety of current media issues during “Tough Topics, Pulitzer Prizes: How Our Content and Its Coverage Have Changed Over the Years.

Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jacqui Banaszynski and Timothy Egan discuss a variety of current media issues during "Tough Topics, Pulitzer Prizes: How Our Content and Its Coverage Have Changed Over the Years."

The Festival closed Sunday with the "Book Lovers' Brunch" featuring Leif Enger, Patrick Hicks, Jess Lourey, C. M. Wendelboe, and Rose Ross Zediker, who explored various aspects of fiction while audience members enjoyed a catered breakfast.

Leif Enger, Patrick Hicks, Jess Lourey, C. M. Wendelboe, Rose Ross Zediker were the keynote speakers at the

Bibliophiles gather in line for Sunday morning breakfast. Leif Enger, Patrick Hicks, Jess Lourey, C. M. Wendelboe, Rose Ross Zediker were the keynote speakers at the "Book Lovers' Brunch" held Sunday, Sept. 23 to close out the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books. 

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