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Lethbridge’s Word on the Street Festival returns to celebrate literacy, books

Readers of all ages pick out new books at the Word on the Street Festival on Saturday, Sept 17. Jaclyn Kucey, Global News.

The Word on the Street Festival celebrated reading for all on Saturday as people, dogs and Lethbridge celebrity Boots the goat welcomed back the annual in-person event.

Boot’s owners Susan Eymann and Jeff Macdonald said it’s great to see people back out in the community harnessing the power of books.

“I think it’s important, and what I hear is the parents wanting to role models to their children, to participate, to learn different things and to get out into the community and to be part of that,” said Eymann. “This is a great way to do that.”

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The festival was back in-person for the first time since 2019 after several years of COVID-19 restrictions.

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“It is nice to start hearing from people that they’ve been looking forward to the festival and that they’ve been missing it,” said Elisabeth Hegerat, the manager of community and economic advancement with the Lethbridge Public Library.

More than 30 Canadian authors were featured in the event.

“The idea of just bringing books and reading and the excitement around reading to the street is awesome,” said Gillian Goerz, an illustrator and author.

Goerz published two graphic novels during the pandemic, she said she hopes to normalize comic books as a learning tool.

“People who are taking their time getting into reading can at least grab onto the storytelling elements that the pictures bring and if the words come later, it’s not like they’re not reading,” said Goerz. “I’ve heard nothing but great praise from teachers around how their kids are getting excited about graphic novels.

“In a way, that is kind of new and unprecedented and it’s helping the hesitant readers get back into books which is awesome.”

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The Word on the Street Festival is not only a place for readers of all ages but writers as well.

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Lethbridge resident Jill Asling started her children’s writing career in 2018. She attended a workshop on writing engaging fiction with writer Barb Geiger where she noted she learned one very important lesson.

“How much you have to work as a writer; It’s a lot of work,” said Asling.

Lethbridge Public Library is already planning next year’s event. Hegerat says she can’t wait to welcome more amazing Canadian authors in 2023.

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