Booking It to Boone

By Jesse Campbell & Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Jun. 12 | Modified: Jun. 29
Booking It to Boone

In an information and digitally driven world, print media can sometimes fall by the wayside.

To encourage reading and an overall love of books, the Watauga County Public Library and Jones House Community Center have partnered to host the third annual High Country Festival of the Book Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, in Boone.

The purpose of the festival is to draw attention to the importance of books, reading and literacy, according to the Friends of the Watauga County Public Library.

“This event brings authors, their works and the public library to our community’s attention and therefore stresses the importance of literacy and lifelong learning,” county librarian Monica Caruso said. “It also brings tourism to the area and puts Boone on the map among literary festivals.”

“Our first festival in 2012 was held at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock,” festival chairwoman Suzanne Thompson said. “We were so fortunate to have some great authors, including a number of New York Times best-selling authors, such as Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell and mystery writer Rita Mae Brown. This was a lovely setting for the event, but we had such an overwhelming interest from authors and publishers who wanted to come exhibit their books that we knew we had to move to a larger space.”

In 2013, the festival was held at Watauga High School, with children’s authors and activities added to the program.

“Again, we were fortunate to draw remarkable authors, such as Sharyn McCrumb, but what really amazed us was the response from families for the children’s authors,” Thompson said.

As such, the 2014 installment will again feature children’s authors and programs. Plus, the decision to move the festival once again seemed like a natural progression in its history.

“In an effort to reach readers of all ages, we decided to move the event to downtown Boone, with activities centered around the library and the Jones House,” Thompson said.

The High Country Festival of the Book opens Friday, June 27, with a Writing Workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center (252 Poplar Grove Road, Boone).

Speakers include Clayton Thompson on “The Future of Book Stores,” Jim Minick on “Playing with Words,” Pamela Schoenewaldt on “Writing About Family” and Lynda Bouchard on “Why Stories Matter: Creative Publicity for Authors.”

Tickets cost $30, which includes a light breakfast and lunch, catered by Over Yonder in Valle Crucis. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

To get readers in the festival going spirit, a kick-off dinner with “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 27 at the Fairway Grill of the Boone Golf Club (433 Fairway Drive, Boone).

The dinner will feature bestselling author Lynn Cullen, who is perhaps known best for her historical themed novel, “Mrs. Poe,” which offers a different perspective of legendary poet Edgar Allen Poe.
According to the library, the dinner is co-sponsored by the Richard T. Barker Friends of the Belk Library. Tickets for the dinner are $50 or $60 for an included signed copy of “Mrs. Poe.”

On Saturday, June 28, the festival books it to downtown Boone. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., events and exhibitors will take to the Watauga County Public Library (140 Queen St.), including children’s authors and activities, live music, food and more.

Children’s authors include Joe A. Edmisten (“The Tree of Plenty”), Madeline and Summer Hayes (“Mrs. Gambel the Quirky Quail”), Alice Naylor (“Maya Rose Chooses a Grandmother”) and Yozette “Yogi” Collins (“Goodnight Boone”).

At 1 p.m., Eisner-nominated cartoonist and graphic novelist Ben Towle (“Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean”) will host a hands-on, graphic novel workshop for ages 10 through 14.

The library parking lot will be closed to accommodate exhibitor tents, live music and food vendors. Other activities include crafts, face painting, balloon art, a Story Walk and a free book for every child who attends.

Meanwhile, the Jones House Community Center (604 W. King St.) will host authors, book-signings, book sales and activities for the whole family.

Authors will present in the Jones House galleries and include Robert Inman (“The Governor’s Lady”), Jim Minick (“The Blueberry Years”), Patti Callahan Henry (“Losing the Moon”), Michael Knight (“Diving Rod”), Amy Greene (“Long Man”), Pamela Schoenewaldt (“Swimming in the Moon”), Lynn Cullen (“Mrs. Poe”) and Charlie Lovett (“The Bookman’s Tale”).

A Mystery Panel will take place from 3 to 4 p.m., featuring moderator Kaye Wilkinson Barley (“Whimsey”) and authors Michael Orenduff (“Pot Thief”), Millie West (“The Cast Net”), Vicki Lane (“Signs in the Blood”) and Sean Keefer (“The Trust”).

For more information, including a complete schedule of authors, call (828) 264-8784, or visit

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