Home Arts Fox Cities Book Festival opens doors to reading enthusiasts

Fox Cities Book Festival opens doors to reading enthusiasts


Helen Kort was Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate, celebrated Wisconsin figure in the literary arts, and Fox Valley native. She was also a visionary who helped open doors in the Fox Valley to local writing talent –- both aspiring and renowned. 

The Fox Cities Book Festival, may be both the Valley’s best kept literary secret, and the door to local reading enthusiasts to a broader stage from both from the audience’s and podium’s perspective.

The Festival, co-founded by Kort, started eleven years ago in conjunction with “Fox Cities Reads.” Kort’s vision brought people together in the community and created a legacy of literary celebration. Now weeks before the 12th annual festival, the week-long event has grown, transformed and reached to every corner of the Fox Cities unique literary circuit since its inception. 

The Fox Cities Book Festival invites writers of all genres to the Valley, having hosted more than 600 authors in more than 20 locations in Appleton, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Menasha and Neenah since 2006. In 2017, the board of directors moved the Fox Cities Book Festival to a fall schedule while its sister program, Fox Cities Reads, continues as a spring program event.

The Festival runs Monday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 13, concluding with its headliner, Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of both historical fiction and non-fiction. Letts will discuss writing her newest novel, “Finding Dorothy,” at Lawrence Memorial Chapel at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. 

The festival also hosts local writing awards. The Mill: A Place for Writers, announces its annual Mill Prizes: a literary contest recognizing local talent in both short fiction and poetry. The contest is open to all writers in the Fox Cities.

Fox Cities Book Festival works hard to schedule events at convenient times and venues. Events run from the morning through late evening and cover dozens of genres and formats. Fox Valley residents can enjoy panel discussions, readings, lectures, workshops and other sessions on subjects ranging from storytelling, young adult, art, history, true crime, to romance and the paranormal. A few presentations are kid and family-friendly too.

A featured author, popular children’s writer, Avi, will be speaking at six different schools in five different school districts. Festival goers can also join him for a meet and great and book signing on Friday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. at the Menasha, Elisha D. Smith Public Library. His books will be available for purchase from Lyons Fine Books of Neenah throughout the festival. 

A complete schedule, list of categories, bios of authors, and descriptions of events including discussions, panels, workshops, and readings, can be found at the Fox Cities Book Festival website.

Those planning out their festival experience can stay up to date at its Facebook page.

Fast facts about Fox Cities Book Festival:

  • FCBF partners with six public libraries, five school districts, and many local bookstores, colleges, and universities
  • FCBF in its 12 season
  • More than 10,000 attendees, 600 authors, 200 volunteers, thousands of events, and 20 local venues have participated in the annual FCBF since 2006.
  • FCBF serves Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute
  • FCBF is inclusive – all events free, open to the public, family friendly and accessible
  • FCBF is a non-profit and is 100 percent volunteer run and organized. 
  • FCBF’s board of directors is comprised of six local librarians, University faculty, and community members. It’s president, Ashley Thiem-Menning, is the director of Kaukauna Public Library.