Virtual 2021 Festival Starts Thursday, Sept. 30

Festival Kickoff Features Bestselling Mystery Author, Young Readers Illustrator, Fun & Games

Festival fans will learn all about the Virtual 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books during a lively kickoff event Thursday, Sept. 30. Featuring Festival favorite William Kent Krueger and 2021 Young Readers One Book Illustrator Lauren Castillo, the event will be both informative and entertaining!

Join Festival authors, partners, sponsors, and staff for your guide to navigating the Virtual 2021 Festival experience! Take advantage of chances to win art and books while supporting the Festival!

Hear how 2021 Young Readers One Book Illustrator Lauren Castillo created the beautiful images for Juan Felipe Herrera’s inspiring story in Imagine/Imagina! Enjoy 2015 One Book South Dakota Author (and Festival fan favorite) William Kent Krueger talking about "The Transformational Power of Stories!"

“Festival staff, presenters and attendees all have a lot more experience with virtual events this year than last, so we don’t need to do as much instruction, but we do want to celebrate the kickoff of another great Virtual Festival,” said Festival of Books Director Jennifer Widman. “It’s nice to be reminded that we can gather on Zoom to share our love of books, led by the inspiring authors we’ll hear from Thursday night!”

Opening Night of the Festival, Sept. 30: What You Need to Know

  • WHAT: FESTIVAL KICK-OFF CELEBRATION with presenting authors, Deadwood partners, statewide sponsors, and SDHC staff. Learn more about the sessions coming up at the Virtual 2021 Festival, hear from inspiring and creative presenters, and take advantage of chances to win art and books while supporting the Festival!
  • WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 30, 6:30-8:30 pm CT 
  • HOW TO REGISTER: If you haven't signed up yet, click the link below to get free tickets; general admission gets you in to all free events, including the Festival Kickoff. During registration, you can also purchase tickets for four paid workshops.
  • HOW TO ATTEND: After you register, you'll receive email instructions for joining Thursday night’s Festival Kickoff and other events. Once you have your general admission pass, you can also join the Zoom via the link below.

About the Virtual 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books switched from an in-person format to an all-virtual format.

Per CDC reports, several counties in the Black Hills region surrounding Deadwood, where the event was to be held, have especially high levels of community infection and hospitalization, said Ann Volin, director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, which hosts the annual event. "Based on advice from health officials, we determined that the risk to the health of our authors, patrons, volunteers, vendors, and staff was too great to move forward as originally planned."

The Festival, in its 19th year of bringing readers and writers together, typically includes more than 100 public presentations and was scheduled for Oct. 1-3 in Deadwood. In lieu of in-person events, the 50-plus authors on the 2021 roster will discuss books, teach workshops, and interact with fans via Zoom and Facebook live.

About the Authors Featured in the Festival Kickoff Sept 30


Lauren Castillo

Tracks: Illustrators, Young Readers

Lauren Castillo has illustrated many books for children, including Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts, Yard Sale by Eve Bunting, and the 2021 Young Readers One Book, Imagine/Imagina by Juan Felipe Herrera. She is also the author-illustrator of the Caldecott Honor-winning book Nana in the City. Castillo studied illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She lives in Harrisburg, PA.

William Kent Krueger

Tracks: Crime/Mystery, Fiction

William Kent Krueger has logged timber, worked construction, done freelance journalism and researched child development. He now makes his living as the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Cork O’Connor mystery series, set in the Minnesota Northwoods. Krueger’s stand-alone novel, Ordinary Grace, received the Edgar Award and was named the 2015 One Book South Dakota. Krueger lives with his wife in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.


Find out More About the Virtual 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books

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