Fort Collins Book Fest Dishes Up Stories and Food for Thought

Fort Collins has become a destination for amazing music, beer, and community festivals–FoCoMX, NewWestFest, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival, even Poudre RiverFest. But, did you know that it’s also home to one of the most unique book festivals?

And Fort Collins Book Fest, now in its fourth year, has its sights set on becoming the premier literary festival in the region. 

“Fort Collins is filled with tons of opportunities to experience arts and culture,” said Anne Macdonald, festival director and librarian with Poudre River Public Library District. “The Book Fest’s goal is to raise awareness of the amazing literary talent that call Colorado, and particularly Fort Collins, home. We want to infuse books and literature into those arts experiences.”

Anne Macdonald. Photo courtesy of Poudre River Libraries.

The Fort Collins Book Fest launched in 2016 with a simple purpose: to create a community experience that combines the literary arts and the area’s cultural interests. (Think craft brewing or music). 

Since then, the author interest in the Book Fest grows each year, attracting inquiries from around the country, and the number of attendees has doubled. Last year, the festival expanded to two days to fit in all the authors and activities.

“People let us know that they wanted even more author readings and sessions and more options for writing workshops,” Macdonald said of the decision to expand. “We responded with a larger lineup, but we’ve worked hard to maintain an up-close and intimate experience.”

The 2019 festival also runs for two days, Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19, and features over 40 national and local authors and presenters at 10 venues. This year, “Food for Thought” celebrates food, agriculture, chefs, and books and is billed as “a literary feast for the foodie in all of us.”

“You don’t need to be a voracious reader or be up on all the latest bestsellers to enjoy the authors and different activities. The festival has something for everyone,” Macdonald said.

Friday’s schedule is dedicated primarily to writing workshops that are free and open to the public but require advance registration. Workshops in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and genre writing are led by notable authors like Fort Collins-based author Laura Resau (Tree of Dreams) and cozy mystery writer Bailey Cates (Bakery Mystery Series). 

There is the Friday evening author reading featuring Octavio Quintanilla, the current Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas, (If I Go Missing) along with Adam Dickinson (Anatomic) and Ramona Ausubel (Awayland). 

Saturday is a full day of keynote presentations, panel discussions, author book talks, live readings, additional writing workshops, cooking demos, and other literary activities happening all day. 

The morning kicks off with an opening keynote by Rick Bass (The Traveling Feast: On the Road and at the Table with My Heroes) and culminates in an evening with acclaimed chef Sean Sherman, the 2019 James Beard Leadership Award winner and 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award winner (The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen).

Macdonald is excited about many of the unique activities taking center stage during the Book Fest like a visit from Julia Child, performed by Karen Vuranch, and cooking demos at Ginger & Baker.

“I’m really excited about the Colorado topics like craft beer and the history of Colorado’s apple industry. These work well alongside conversations about food justice and sustainable agriculture,” Macdonald said. 

The FoCo Book Fest is free to attend; Tickets are not required. The full event schedule, the lineup of authors, and a map of venues are available online at Print programs will be available on-site at the festival. 

“Come out, support local authors, and enjoy the experience,” Macdonald said. “We all love food and with all the talented authors and fun activities, there’s definitely something for everyone.”


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