Prairie Fox Lit Fest Returns To Downtown Ottawa

Event will feature 19 authors and a used book sale

April Dzubic, of St. Louis, Mo., and nephew Noah Salz, of Ottawa, look at used books Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the American Association of University Women annual book sale during Lit Fest at Washington Square in Ottawa.

The Prairie Fox Book Store’s annual celebration of literature, Lit Fest, is scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Jordan block in Ottawa, where 19 authors are planning to visit with their books.

The event also will feature a used book sale.

Authors include award-winning author/illustrators DJ Corchin and Dan Dougherty, who will set up on the stage at 10:30 a.m., to demonstrate love illustrations and give a reading to kick off the day, leading to historian and mystery author Susanna Calkins taking the stage.

Prairie Fox’s Special Events Manager Dylan Conmy said he’s excited to hear each of the authors speak and share their stories.

“We have professor and author Brett Ashley Kaplan coming as our final featured author and she has this awesome book called ‘Rare Stuff,’” Conmy said. “But she actually does studies on the Holocaust and memories and genocide. This is her first novel and it includes Yiddish speaking whales.”

New York Times bestselling young adult author Joelle Charbonneau speaks Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, during Lit Fest at Washington Square in Ottawa.

Story actor Paddy Lynn also will be in attendance at 11:30 a.m. to perform spooky stories for children ages 5 and older.

Conmy said Lynn interacts with children and invites them on stage to help her tell the stories, something kid friendly that Lit Fest hasn’t had in the past.

“We have local and regional authors, some new and some we’ve had in the past and a lot we have on consignment here at the store,” Conmy said. “There’s Jillian Duchnowski who wrote ‘Traveling Mermaid of Starved Rock,’ and L.A. Guettler, who is one of my personal favorites who wrote ‘Red Darkling’ and ‘Bonkpocalypse.’”

Guettler has appeared at Lit Fest before, and Conmy said she’ll write limericks at her table.

Other authors featured include Deb Borys, Morgan Carretto, Robert Cooke, Tom McKay, Sue Mydliak, Otto Shafer, Marydale Stewart, Carol Pau, Jannifer Powelson, Anne Terpstra and Chris White.

There will be musical performances from folk artist Dustin Darnold and fiddle-and-banjo band The Templetons, along with food from Yim Curry, Thyme Craft Kitchen and Keely’s Castle. Cats Q, Smoketober’s grand champion, also will offer pulled pork and pork loin sandwiches along with beans and coleslaw.

Virginia and Matt Maltas, of Ottawa, look at used books Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the AAUW annual book sale during Lit Fest at Washington Square in Ottawa.

Lit Fest will have a popcorn stand with all proceeds going to the Out of the Darkness Walk, which takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Washington Square.

Conmy said proceeds from the used book sale will go to the Prairie Fox’s Imagination Library and there will be funds going to the bookstore’s elevator fund, with the idea of opening the second floor to have a dedicated space for children’s bookstores.

“We need to make it ADA compatible before we do anything else,” Conmy said. “The biggest barrier to that is the elevator.”

Conmy said the entire children’s book store will move upstairs and Prairie Fox will host STEM programs and there will be teachers that can lead tutoring programs, along with space for a children’s community theater and a stage area for them to rehearse and perform.

Conmy said anyone who has used books they’d like to donate for the sale can drop them off at the Prairie Fox Bookstore, 719 La Salle St. There will be a drop-off lane from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Presentation schedule:

10:30 to 11 a.m.: Author/illustrators DJ Corchin and Dan Dougherty (stage)

11 a.m. to noon: The Templetons

11:30 a.m.: Story actor Paddy Lynn (lawn)

11:30 a.m. to noon: Historian, professor and author Susanna Calkins (stage)

12:30 to 1 p.m.: Professor and author Brett Ashley Kaplan (stage)

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Ottawa and Ottawa City Council for The Times