By Pauline Kerr
Representatives of the Alice Munro Writers and Readers Festival 2013 – Karen Stewart (steering committee chair), Beth Ross and Laurel Armstrong – gave North Huron council an update for plans on this year's festival, and asked for support.
Alice Munro, three-time winner of the Governor General's Award for fiction, is one of Canada's most beloved and best known authors of short stories. Just as her work celebrates the people and heritage of Huron County, the festival recognizes and celebrates her. As well, it serves as a forum for writers both adult and youth, and has tremendous potential as a draw for tourism.
Stewart said this year's festival, planned for Sept. 28 and 29, once again include the short story competition (submissions close the end of July). What better way to honour the acknowledged master of the short story genre than to foster interest in it through this contest?
Changes this year include increasing the cash prizes in the youth category to match the adult category (first place - $500, second - $300, third - $200). There were more than 50 entries in last year's contest, and judges had their work cut out for them in deciding the winners. Prize winners read selections from their stories, proving to the audience how high the calibre of entries was.
Other events during the festival include the gala, a guided walking/driving tour of “Alice country,” brunch, “Reading Allowed (A Loud)” at the CKNX studio, and “I Was Born” – Women's Institute stories.
The committee is partnering with North Huron for venue access (North Huron Museum, Blyth Hall), and the expertise of municipal personnel. This year, the committee asked North Huron for a $2,500 donation, as well as designation as a community event for the purposes of insurance coverage and other benefits, and assistance in setting up a bank account.
Council voted unanimously to make the committee a committee of council, and to provide the donation. Becoming a committee of council will assist the group in applying for funding.
Armstrong spoke to council about the positive impact of arts and culture tourism in economic diversification of the area. “We intend to grow our little festival to international renown,” she said.
She referred to Stratford as an example of the huge impact culture can have on the economy.
In Armstrong's words, “aspiring to be a significant literary event” is valid – Alice Munro is world renowned and may get a Nobel Prize.
“Alice captured the community's identity on her pages,” Armstrong said, adding the community has the opportunity to build the festival into “an iconic event.”
Reeve Neil Vincent spoke to council about how much he enjoyed last year's gala and the entire event. “Alice set a very high standard,” he said. “It's important to see her work continue.”
Writers of short fiction are encouraged to enter the Alice Munro Writers and Readers Festival’s 2013 Short Story Competition. The festival’s steering committee is dedicated to supporting the efforts and talent of unpublished and emerging writers of short fiction.
Entries must be typed using standard fonts such as Times Roman, Helvetica or Arial, size 11 or 12, double spaced on plain white paper. The entrant's name must appear only on the cover page and all pages must be numbered clearly. Entries cannot exceed 5,000 words. Stories must be written in English. Copyright remains property of the author. All contestants must have Canadian connections.
Monetary prizes will be awarded for first, second and third-place winners in both adult and teen (age 13-19 as of Aug. 1) categories. Selected authors will be invited to read from their entries at the gala event during the festival weekend, Sept. 27-29.
Contest entries must be postmarked on or before Aug. 1, 2013. Entries must be submitted in hard-copy to Box 90, Wingham, Ontario, N0G 2W0 and a digital copy forwarded to email@example.com. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee. No more than three entries will be accepted from any one writer in the 2013 competition. Complete contest rules and entry forms are available at www.AliceMunroFestival.com. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-523-4328 or 519-441-7629
Complete information about this year's festival is available online at www.alicemunrofestival.ca.