Last weekend I had the particular pleasure of travelling to Mudgee for their fourth annual Readers' Festival. Mudgee is a small town in the Central West of New South Wales, that has made a good name for itself as a food and wine destination, and is now showing us how to put on a Readers' Festival- an interesting change in emphasis, most of these events are called Writers' Festivals.
Australia has quite a few major literary events of course- Sydney Writers' Festival (May), Melbourne Writers Festival (late August), Byron Bay Writers' Festival (earlyAugust). There seem to be more all the time. Newcastle hosted their first Writers Festival this year (and I couldn't go- such despair). Indeed there are so many that these kindly folks at literaryfestivals.com.au have set up a website to keep track of them all- actually I had no idea that there were SO many festivals, it could be a full-time job attending them all.
A few years ago a couple of farsighted individuals dreamed up the notion of staging a Readers' Festival in Mudgee, and with a wonderful small town spirit of can do, they did. They had a great line up again this year, and a last minute decision or two got me there.
There were 12 authors, in 17 sessions, some In Conversation, some panel discussions, a dinner on the Saturday night and Long Lunch on the Sunday afternoon. There was a second hand book fair on the Saturday and I may have bought a few books there, as well as some by the featured authors.
I got to see 10 of the 12 authors in the six sessions I attended.
I think it's fantastic that a town of 10,000 people can hold such an amazing event. I hope to make a return visit next year.