IFOA: You are a small team making a BIG event happen. What’s the hardest part?
The Word On The Street: Probably making sure the office keeps working and doesn’t just read the festival library. We’re not kidding. The whole team is really just a bunch of word nerds,so with a ton of great books at our fingertips this year, it’s sometimes difficult to stay on task. Some of us also have a tough time not nerding out when speaking to childhood heroes, ie, Kenneth Oppel, or new favourite authors, ie. Nathan Adler. Apparently the hardest part is just being too geeky.
IFOA: This is the biggest The Word On The Street has ever been. What are the newest additions to the festival?
The Word On The Street: We have two new stages this year.The Genre Zone Stage is brand new, with programming that audiences have been wanting for a long time. This is the must-attend stage for fans of Canadian science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and comic books. The Canadian Magazines Stage, which hasn’t been a stage at The Word On The Street for a few years, has been revived with an injection of pure excitement. There’ll be panels discussing a wide range of Magazine topics from designing the Canadian identity, living a greener life, and even a Zine race!
IFOA: Can each of you recommend one thing we cannot miss at this year’s festival?
The Word On The Street:
- Loribeth, Programming Assistant: Is there a better way to spend the day than on a boat with André Alexis and Gary Barwin talking about boaty, piratey things and sailing around Toronto’s waterfront? I think not. A Pirates’s Life for Me on the Author Cruises is the event I’ll be dreaming of all day.
- Emily, Volunteer Coordinator: Without question, the TVOKids LIVE! Stage. Even as a full grown adult, OddSquad is the funniest show I’ve ever seen. I’ll be sneaking away to make sure I’m there. There’s also so many activities for families, where kids can run around and be kids which is probably the best part of the festival for me.
- Justin, Marketing Coordinator: Make sure you’re at the Toronto Star Tent for the talk between Mitch Potter and Thomas Walkom, Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump: What it Means for Canada. I have the feeling this one will be a show stopper (I mean the event, not the presidency…I think).
- Katie: Event Coordinator: I’m getting my sister to take copious notes at Purely Pumpkin with Allison Day at the Cooks ‘n’ Books Stage. Allison is right. Pumpkin doesn’t have to be just seasonal anymore. I want to know how to make that happen. And free samples of pumpkin flavoured goodies?! Yes please!
- Evan, Festival Director: Maybe it’s obvious that I would have a penchant for the visual, but our panel featuring some of the best indie comics creators in the city, The6ix in Four Colours, is an event every comic-lover should attend. Found on the Genre Zone Stage, Jason Loo, Nathan Page, Drew Shannon, and Leisha Riddel are going to show why Toronto is a centre for comic innovation.
IFOA: We are really intrigued by the Author Cruises. Can you tell us more?
The Word On The Street: We take a lot of pride in this stage because there’s nothing else like it in the country. Audiences are able to go on hour long boat cruises throughout the day on the gorgeous Tall Ship Kajama with various panels of renowned authors. Because of this amazing experience, this is the only stage at the festival that’s ticketed, but it is well worth the price. You can buy tickets in advance for any of our four Author Cruises.
IFOA: What do you love most about The Word On The Street Toronto festival?
The Word On The Street: The opportunity to share something we love with so many people. It’s still so encouraging to us that over 200,000 people come out year after year to celebrate reading and literature, and that we get to be a highlight in many Canadian’s reading lives. No one will say “print is dead” when they see the excitement in the air during the festival. There’s something special in being part of the literary energy of not only Toronto, but of Canada.
On May 12 and 13, IFOA and Harbourfront Centre welcomed over 8,000 students for Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ and the Festival des Arbres, Canada’s largest literary event for children and teens. Along with award ceremonies and book signings, students enjoyed workshops hosted by the authors, the SANDS ALIVE! station, scavenger hunts, book trading and much more. Thanks to everyone involved for another successful year!
Photos © ifoa.org/ Tom Bilenkey