The festival itself was only a couple days long, but included enough panels and presentations I was forced to make tough choices. There were often 6 choices at any one time, and all of them with fantastic authors and presenters. You can see for yourself at the Festival website, while the 2011 info is still up.
One such session I enjoyed was a discussion between Keir Graff, Craig Lancaster, Jenny Shank, and David Abrams about "online stuff." It was focused on blogging and social media but did get around to a few other topics as well. Especially as all four have published/ soon-to-be-published novels. Also, Craig was funny. So was Jenny, but you expect her to be, having written for The Onion and McSweeney's. Sorry, but it's true.
Montana's Festival of the Book is really dedicated to literature and literacy. It's also almost entirely attended by middle-aged and older people, which was a surprise. There seemed to be a lot of young people around for a few key sessions, especially in Poetry, but that would be it. Odd. I thought to myself, well, this is more the demographic for book collecting anyway, so I'll likely find other collectors here. But I really didn't, until my session. I found the idea of a session on book collecting or a talk about books as objects was disorienting to many participants. And intriguing. They checked their schedules, asking, "When are you, again?", and "I'll have to catch that."
My session (titled Adventures in Book Collecting) was pretty well attended (about average for the smaller sessions). There were tons of great questions, and people seemed genuinely interested in learning more when it was done. Of course, my favorite part, was all the smiles at the end. It didn't hurt LibraryThing hooked me up with some great swag to give away! You can't tell, but the guy in the greenish shirt is holding a cue-cat. Everyone else ran away to gloat over their prizes, so I missed photographing about half of the swag winners because I was mobbed by the audience. I should bring an assistant next year. Any volunteers?
Since I was in the last time-slot of the last day, the festival was drawing to a close. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to trying it again next year, if they'll have me.
Attending these kinds of high-quality events, one should be forgiven the temptation to name-drop, so I will only indulge it only once more. Corduroy.