By Paula Benson, Standard Correspondent
The theme for Bookstock 2023 — a three-day annual festival celebrating all things written word — will be “Voices on the Village Green,” according to Program Director Elizabeth Wilcox. Now in its 14th year, Bookstock has spotlighted world renowned writers such as Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo, children’s author Sy Montgomery, and U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, as well as many well-known local New England and Vermont authors, poets, and musicians.
This year, the event will be held June 23-25. Bookstock will continue to be free and open to the public, and will feature live music, food trucks, workshops, speakers, activities for children, and a huge book sale with between 10,000 to 14,000 used and rare books.
Wilcox explained the theme, saying, “The village green has been the traditional heart of town and community gathering place. The Woodstock Green is a huge part of what makes Bookstock a beloved book festival. The Green is a perfect place to bring people together to express and share ideas and to celebrate our ability to gather, to engage in dialogue, and to learn and contribute to the local and national conversation.”
Paul Jensen, a member of Bookstock’s Board of Directors, added, “Bookstock’s mission is to unite people in celebration of storytelling and the written word in all forms. We invite authors, poets, and musical artists to come and engage with the community.”
The event takes place throughout the town of Woodstock. The massive book sale will be set up on the Village Green, according to Jenson, and with vital assistance from partnering sponsors, other venues around town will host speakers. “Our partners on and around The Green help make Bookstock happen,” Wilcox said. “So far, a few partners include The Yankee Bookshop, Pentangle, the Woodstock library, The North Chapel, and The Woodstock History Center, which this year is celebrating 80 years of providing educational experiences and resources to the community.”
Wilcox added, “We [bring in] critically acclaimed authors, writers, and poets from Vermont, the region, and the country.” She said that over the years Bookstock has developed a strong, divergent poetry program tradition, which will be represented by a variety of voices. “We will have a diverse representation of interests and genres, and aim to engage young and old alike, whether [the topic is] gardening, food, fly fishing, history, poetry, filmmaking, or the literary arts.” Some authors will present their work alongside an expert in the subject, some will offer Q&As.
Wilcox feels that Bookstock represents how America’s small towns are a vital part of our country’s cultural tapestry. “America is about communities, small and large, and those communities are composed of a wide range of expressions that we are bringing together through the Festival of Words.”
Jenson and Wilcox report that details are still being finalized with this year’s authors, and that they will be announcing the headlining speaker and other authors next month. They plan to have more than 50 speakers this year and expect 1,000-1,500 attendees.