The charming downtown of Cobourg, east of Toronto, played host to two festivals last weekend: the Coal Train Music and Blues Festival and Word Northumberland, the region’s brand-new book festival.
I got to experience both.
Standing in front of the Historic Firehall Theatre on Second Street, you could hear the voices of authors inside, reading from their books. And hear some pretty good live music outside.
There was no conflict between the two.
It was as if one was a soundtrack for the other.
Hamlin Grange, whose photo adorns the front cover of A Good Home, was invited to exhibit his photograph and I was asked to read from the book. What a thrill it was for us both to share our work with an audience of book lovers – readers, publishers, illustrators and authors taking part in Word Northumberland!
A steady stream of people dropped in to the book festival, where they heard a remarkable variety of readings and got to meet the authors.
In the afternoon, I sat outside with fellow writers Erika Rummel, Felicity Sidnell Reid, and Susan Statham (Word Northumberland’s lead organizer). Residents and tourists alike stopped to chat with us and buy our books.
Cobourg, Port Hope, Warkworth, Rice Lake, Grafton, Cramahe and the many other towns and villages that make up Northumberland County are teeming with cultural activities. Artists of all kinds live and work in this region that’s bordered by lake Ontario at one end, and stunning hills, valleys and farmlands on the other. More and more nature and culture lovers from the bigger cities are moving to the area, which many call “the best-kept secret in Canada”.
I met people who’d moved to Northumberland from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and elsewhere. A former journalist with the Toronto Star. A dentist. Several writers and painters. A librarian. An office worker. A photographer. A corporate executive. And more. All professed their love for the region and its cultural offerings.
Congrats to Susan Statham and The Spirit of the Hills writers for their groundbreaking festival. And spirits were indeed high – despite rain in the morning. Visitors and organizers alike, thrilled with this inaugural success, are already expecting a bigger event next year.
PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE