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Books, beer and grit: Sterling North Festival highlights state culture

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Jim Dayton
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

EDGERTON—Giving this year’s Sterling North Book and Film Festival a Wisconsin theme was an obvious choice for organizers after many state authors recently published books.

Some presenting authors have written books on beer, hunting and rural living, a seamless match between the festival’s theme and its content. The 12th annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Edgerton Public Library, Tri-County Community Center, and Edgerton Books and Art.

The festival always tries to emphasize works that cover many topics and appeal to different groups of people. Selecting Wisconsin authors naturally fulfills that goal, festival coordinator Logan Nelson said.

The state’s diverse geography has created different subcultures. Lake Michigan to the east, river bluffs to the west, the north woods and agricultural lands in the central, and southern regions all have separate lifestyles, Nelson said.

“We have this overarching variety of authors who are bringing in what I think is kind of a patchwork quilt of culture in Wisconsin. We’re kind of different than a lot of states because we have such diverse geography,” she said. “The books bring in a lot of our different cultures.”

One of the highlights of every festival is bestowing the Sterling North Award for excellence in children’s literature. North grew up in Edgerton, and his most famous work, “Rascal,” is based on his childhood.

The tale tells the story of a boy who finds a raccoon in his backyard and takes the animal on adventures. It’s a story about how the outdoors helps a boy find his character, Nelson said.

North’s daughter, Arielle North Olson, judges her father’s namesake contest, and the children’s books that win often contain the same themes as “Rascal.”

This year’s winner is Amy Timberlake for her book “One Came Home.” It’s a historical fiction book set in Wisconsin during the 1870s, but it resembles “True Grit” more than “Little House on the Prairie,” Nelson said.

“This is really more about a girl who’s trying to deal with that same type of life, the hard life of the pioneers, but who’s young and trying to fend for herself,” she said. “That’s an element that really captivates young and old readers alike.”

The festival will include writer’s workshops, children’s activities and student writer presentations.

It will finish with a presentation by Jim Draeger, co-author of “Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries.” He will then lead a quick tour through Edgerton to show off the city’s bars, ending with drinks at Lounge 1848, Nelson said.

If the goal of this year’s festival is to highlight state culture, a cold beer at the day’s end is a fitting conclusion.



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