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The Word On The Street has been going strong for 20 years. What festival moment from all of those years stands out in your mind? Tell us about it by sending an email to clelia@openbooktoronto.com or post it onto the bottom of this news item, and your name will be entered in a draw for a fabulous festival prize pack (valued at approximately $1500), which includes over 60 of the titles that will be featured at The Word On The Street on September 27th. The winner's name will be selected on September 28th.

13 comments

"The Word On The Street moment that stood out for me occurred today. I was browsing, in an heavenly haze, through acres of books, when I stopped for yet another moment to check an eye-catching display.

A hand stretched out toward me and a very friendly voice said, "Can I interest you in a free bookmark?" Always ready to take anything free, I smiled, said sure, and took it. The man then offered, "Can I interest you in the matching book?" I laughed and said sure. I settled on another book in the display, after a very nice lady in the booth mentioned that of the three lined up, that was the one she most enjoyed.

Turns out, the friendly man was the author! Rick Blechta then, with a twinkle in his eyes, inscribed the Cemetery of The Nameless for me. I'm thrilled!"

- Sent to Open Book by Sandra Elsass

"I had returned to University to qualify for Graduate School, but-- alas!-- didn't quite make it through the year... . So, well, I skipped a final exam for a Canlit course and then bumped into my Prof at Word on the Street, Queen Street style. "What happened to you?" he asked. "I quit to become a writer." He half-smiled and then asked if I was reading anywhere, to which I replied, "I haven't started writing yet..." So embarrassing amongst all those books, so embarrassing."

- Sent to Open Book by Ross McKie

"I don't have one festival moment that stands out, but I love attending each year to see the authors, vendors and other book/magazine lovers. I'm looking forward to seeing Jane Urquhart this year."

- Sent to Open Book by Katharine Chen

My favourite festival moment was the first time I went. I had to have only been 12 or so, and my uncle had offered to take me. I had recently moved to a new school and didn't have too many friends. I usually spent lunches and recesses reading book after book. So when the festival came around, my uncle thought it would be great for me.

I remember it was the first time I ever rode on the streetcar. It was an amazing experience for me because I realized my love for books went beyond my loneliness. I've kept my love for reading for ten years now, but the festival made me learn that reading isn't a solitary movement--it can be a social one too! I also learned a lot about my uncle, who always has a pretty quiet demeanour, and we're still close today.

And don't worry, I survived the peril of elementary school, high school and even university. I'm one of the least shy people I know!

my favorite festival moment was walking through the crowds and tents, perusing at my leisure and then wow! my old friend serge was there selling his books....! i was very proud to see him pursue his dream.

I like best, every year, simply seeing so many people walking with books, sitting under trees with books, looking through books at all the booths. Magic.

"I remember my first word on the street. It was on queen street. I stood off to the side near the sidewalk and looked down from Spadina. Instead of cars and people and shops, I saw rows and rows of tents and books and people who love to read and write and who want to share that with others. And it was glorious."

- Sent to Open Book by Karen King

This will only be the third year I've even known about the festival (and only the third year I would be able to go, even if I had known), but my best memory from both the previous years is identical: getting a chance to stop by the New Quarterly booth and catch up with old friends I see far too rarely.

My comment isn't about the past but about the future. Having only arrived in Toronto with my family last year, the Word on the Street festival was the first time we went to a festival as a family and everyone enjoyed it. Queens park was a great venue for it and we loved the accessibility offered by the authors present and various editors. My son who was 11 bought some books as did my wife and I. this festival for us represents two things we love, books and the city of Toronto.

Cheers,

Walking down a path and passing a slew of writers in quick succession. All within about four minutes: Leon Rooke, Joe Fiorito, Margaret Atwood (and a gang around her), Paul Vermeersch, Michael Winter, Ken Babstock, Michael Holmes, Elizabeth Hay, Zoe Whittall, Margaret MacMillan, Austin Clarke, Linwood Barclay, Dave Bidini, Helaine Becker, Dennis Lee and one or two more I am forgetting.

For me, it would have to be the participation last year by Toastmasters. Running a mock meeting and getting the word out about Toastmasters International and the opportunity to learn speech writing and leadership and presentation skills in a supportive environment.

Although I've been working at Word on the Street (in a booth) for the past few years, the moment that stands out most vividly in my mind was entering the Sony Reader tent last year. The technology blew me away and I remember feeling a bit scared that printed books would become a thing of the past.

"My most vivid memory does not involve a reading, nor does it involve meeting my favourite author. My most vivid memory of Word on the Street was when it was still on Queen Street, probably 2004; I passed the CBC tent the first time that day and saw the throngs of young ladies trying to get close to Evan Solomon, then, passing it a second time to get back home, I saw the throngs of gray-haired ladies trying to get close to Andy Barrie. I saw the future that day, my friends. I laughed for a long time at that."

- Sent to Open Book by Laurie

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