The books festival that refuses to throw in the towel

Anna Locker-Lampson is hoping against hope that the first readers and writers festival in Waipawa will go ahead.

Between the Lines, the inaugural Readers and Writers Festival at Waipawa in the Central Hawkes Bay, is scheduled for July 23-26. We have yet to cancel. It’s with an undying optimism that we continue to hope the festival will be able to proceed.

A fortnight ago, the four team members of the festival met at the Waipawa library and sat two metres apart from each looking rather despondent. We’d arranged to meet with the expectation we’d discuss how to launch our programme on our Facebook page. But there we were, a mixed bag of exuberant females, meeting to consider having to cancel.

We’d planned for our festival to showcase the small, beautiful bit of countryside of the Central Hawkes Bay. Most of the sessions were pencilled-in to be held in the grand old houses of the area, creating the feeling of a fireside conversation.

We’d just finalised our programme, over the moon that Steve Braunias had agreed to be our opening speaker, and that a range of authors had also said yes to making the trip. But whereas we should have been congratulating eachother, we sat there bewildered – and also determined not to say die immediately.

The doomsday people were urging us to cancel. But according to the editor of our local newspaper, our small community is crying out for more cultural activity. Waipawa and the surrounding region is packed with avid readers, going by the number of lively and active book clubs.

And so we made the decision to make no decision. We’d wait a little longer to see whether we could go ahead, or pull the plug. We figured the community would certainly need something to look forward to by July and that to cancel now might be acting too rashly.

We’re now on hold until the end of May. Of course we’re aware that July may be too soon for a public gathering. But we are still ridiculously hoping that by the end of May the veil of strangeness may lift. Watch this space.

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