When the Humanities Council SC announced this summer that it would dissolve the 17-year-old South Carolina Book Festival, Annie Boiter-Jolley and Darien Cavanaugh quickly decided the Midlands wouldn’t be the same without it.
“We felt like we couldn’t let this happen,” said Boiter-Jolley, operations manager for Jasper Magazine. “Columbia needs a literary festival and we figured that we just needed to jump on it so that there would be no gap from one year to the next.”
That’s why this month, Boiter-Jolley and local writer Cavanaugh announced the start of a new literary festival that will launch in February.
The festival, Deckle Edge – named after the rough, uncut edges of paper formed by the deckle device in a paper-making machine – will be built on the foundation of the South Carolina Book Festival, Boiter-Jolley said.
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“The South Carolina Book Festival was a tremendous gift to readers and writers in the South, and we’re grateful to the Humanities Council for sharing their expertise with us as we create something new,” Cavanaugh said. “We would not have been able to move so quickly on launching Deckle Edge without their guidance and good will.”
The inaugural Deckle Edge Literary Festival will be held Feb. 19-21. The weekend-long festival will feature readings, book signings, panel presentations, exhibitors, writers’ workshops, activities for children and young adult readers and a wide range of other literary events for all ages, according to the organizers.
The festival location has not been set yet, Boiter-Jolley said, but added that the festival is in final discussions with a couple of locations in downtown Columbia.
Boiter-Jolley and Cavanaugh hope the festival will appeal to regional and national audiences while remaining a community-focused effort. The two have partnered with an extensive network of South Carolina literary and cultural organizations, including Richland Library, the University of South Carolina Press, Hub City Writers Project and the SC Center for Children’s Books & Literacy and many others.
As the festival goes through the process of applying for nonprofit status, One Columbia for Arts and History will be acting as its fiscal sponsor, Boiter-Jolley said. The festival also has sought financial support through city and county tax grants and is accepting tax-deductible donations through One Columbia.
“Deckle Edge is the right literary event at the right time,” said One Columbia executive director Lee Snelgrove. “With the loss of a major literary event like the South Carolina Book Festival, we didn’t want Columbia to go without something that draws a large literary audience. We thought it was vital to Columbia and we are able to bridge the funding gap by transitioning funding that was slated for the South Carolina Book Festival and convert those funds to Deckle Edge.”
That funding is only good for one year, however, but the hope is that by next year, Deckle Edge will be able to establish itself as a nonprofit and will no longer need funding from One Columbia, Snelgrove explained.
The Humanities Council SC is now actively pursuing a variety of year-round statewide literary initiatives and has been supportive of the plans for Deckle Edge as a new literary event to be hosted in Columbia, Boiter-Jolley said.
“I definitely feel like this festival is going to tie in nicely with what the Humanities Council is trying to do,” Boiter-Jolley said. “They’ve been really supportive of our efforts to continue this traditions.”
Want to know more?
For more information, visit the festival web site at http://www.DeckleEdgeSC.org or e-mail festival organizers at info@DeckleEdgeSC.org.