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Community Read in lieu of Literary Fest

MILLBROOK — Many people were let down when the Millbrook Literary Festival was canceled this May, and then more recently, Millbrook Community Day was also canceled. COVID has caused many cancellations, and though disappointed, most people seem to be understanding. 

However, a different type of literary festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, and all are invited to join in the fun of the 12th annual event, slightly modified.

Although there won’t be the usual authors selling and signing their books on the Millbrook Library lawn, the day will be filled with other events, said Literary Festival Publicity Chair Sam Falk, some at the library and some at Merritt Bookstore, for children, teens and adults. 

The main event is a Community Read.         

The featured titles are four short books from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn’s Mindfulness Essentials series: “How To Eat,” “How to See,” “How to Fight” and “How to Walk.” 

The books are available at Merritt Bookstore and the library for the discounted price of $2 each.

The formal Literary Festival will now be a fall event. The Community Read seems the perfect replacement, for both the summer Literary Festival and the September Community Day.

Kira Wizner, owner of Merritt Bookstore said, “I’m really excited about this event. The books were chosen specifically. They’re about being present in your day and increasing awareness, which is really what community is all about.”

Starting with, for the youngsters at 10 a.m., Story Time with Miss Abbey, the children’s programs will go until 2 p.m., all at the library. 

Children’s librarian Abigail Gallagher planned a full slate of children’s activities including an all-day scavenger hunt in the library’s children’s room. 

Another special event for kiddies includes a noon visit from author Lesa Cline-Ransome, who will read from her middle-grade trilogy, “Finding Langston.” Children will also be encouraged to write their own story or poem.

Little ones will also enjoy meeting three professional people: a choreographer, a restaurant owner and a zookeeper, who will each read a story about their profession and talk about what they do. 

Other activities will include making pinwheels and learning to write down one’s own thoughts.

At the library, community leaders will head discussions for adults. At 10:30 a.m., Chef Gabe McMackin, from Troutbeck in Amenia; grower Ellie Brown, from Stonewood Farm; and writer and restaurant consultant Tarajia Morrell; will lead a talk on How to Eat.

Father Matt Calkins from Grace Church in Millbrook will join facilitator and author Cat Greenstreet in a talk about How to Fight.  

A portion of the festival will be held at Merritt Bookstore. 

At 11:30 a.m., Julie Hart of the Dutchess Land Conservancy and Columbia University adjunct professor Ralph Schmidt from the Earth Institute will give a talk on How to Walk.

At 1:30 p.m., also at Merritt Bookstore, Megan Brandow-Fallen, an art historian and history professor at City University of New York, and Adam Brandow, who studies the history of decorative art, design and material culture at Bard Graduate Center, will lead How to See.

The day promises to be full and exciting, and organizers hope participants will read the books and join in the fun and conversations. 

The spirit of the Literary Festival, which began as a tribute to the late Scott Meyer, the former owner of Merritt Bookstore, by his wife and business partner, Alison, certainly lives on. 

Benefactors of the of the Community Read include:  Arts Mid-Hudson, Friends of the Millbrook Library, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook Tribute Garden Foundation, The Dyson Foundation and the Weeden Foundation.   

For details and scheduling, go to www.millbrookliteraryfestival.org.

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