Insider’s Guide to the 2017 FoCo Book Fest


After the success of the inaugural Fort Collins Book Fest in 2016 (Brewin’ Up Books), the FREE, one-day literary arts festival returns with a new theme, Writings and Riffs, on Saturday, October 21.

This year’s festival celebrates music, books, and poetry as means of storytelling, self-expression, and social conversation. Each encompasses an extraordinarily wide array of genres and styles, using similar methods to build narratives, imagery, and sound.

You just need to look at Nobel Prize-winner, singer-songwriter, and musician Bob Dylan to see how books and music are flip sides of the same artistic coin.

Writing and Riffs offers a diverse mix of authors, presentations, discussions, readings, and writing workshops sure to satisfy curious book and music lovers alike!

The full schedule and program lineup can be found online at including information on the headliner panel, “The Remix: Books that Made Me,” and featured musician-authors Kim Gordon and Loudon Wainwright III.

However you choose to experience the festival, be sure to share your day with us! Use the hashtags – #FoCoBookFest and #FoCoBooks – when you post photos or updates to your social media.

Now, if you’re looking for something to strike a particular chord, may we recommend a few ideas?

For an Eclectic Experience

Want to blend all of the various authors into a beautiful mix? Then check out the sessions that combine voices from music and the literary arts.

Start the day with a casual Author Meetup at The Forge Publick House, where local writers and book lovers are invited to interact with book fest presenters and authors.

Don’t miss Ravi Howard, Steve Knopper, Kim Gordon, or Loudon Wainwright III at the festival.

Then head over to see “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” presented by Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper as he makes the case for the brilliance of the King of Pop. Or perhaps listen to Ravi Howard discuss his latest novel, Driving the King: Nat King Cole.

Next up try the panel discussion “Social Vibes: A Sign of the Time” where music and literary authors discuss how music influences, is influenced by, and/or is simply a sign of its time before taking in Loudon Wainwright III’s book talk and live music.

Stick around for Kim Gordon or check out poetry readings before the early evening headliner panel at Block One Events, “The Remix: Books that Made Me,” where six authors discuss inspiring and influential books and authors.

End your day with live music at Wolverine Farm Publick House.

For a Social Conversation

Don’t miss the intriguing social and cultural conversations happening all day at the book fest. Attend “Ecomusicology” presented by Mark Pedelty for a look at how musicians are leading advocates for sustainability. He also participates in a panel discussion examining “musicology, society, and nature” along with nature writer John Calderazzo and musicologist Kip Lornell.

Members of OneBeat join the Book Fest lineup.

“Rhymin’: Hip Hop Poetry” at The Music District explores hip hop, poetry, creativity and culture with musician Stephen Brackett of The Flobots, music writer Kyle Eustice, and a member of OneBeat.

Journalist Stephen Witt looks at the history of digital piracy and its effects on the music industry while Lornell also teams up with Anne Rasmussen to talk about the history and influence of the music of multicultural America.

There is also an interesting presentation by Rasmussen in the evening that puts a spotlight on music, gender, and politics in Islamic Indonesia, an area of research that she has pursued extensively as an ethnomusicologist. 

For the History Buff

Not only will there be a discussion of Colorado’s music history by G. Brown and Rick Roberts, but they’ll also examine the creation of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Cultural historian & music enthusiast Rick Beyer will offer two presentation at Book Fest.

Rick Beyer settles in at Old Firehouse Books to offer up two historical discussions: a look at the true facts of history vs. the award-winning musical Hamilton! and also a fun exploration of tales from throughout music history.

Craig Werner, known for his presentation on the soundtrack of Vietnam, will take a look at the history of the 1960s as told through music during “For What It’s Worth: A New History of the Sixties” at Downtown Artery.

For the Musician

Experience music in a completely different way by getting up-close with diverse musicians, music insiders, and historians.

Colorado’s Chris Daniels, Greta Cornett, Stacy Nick, and Rick Roberts join Kip Lornell for a discussion of musical identity.

Take in a discussion of Colorado’s musical identity with musicians Chris Daniels and Rick Roberts and writers Kip Lornell, Stacy Nick, and Greta Cornett and then listen to a presentation on Colorado music history and the Colorado Music Hall of Fame with Roberts and G. Brown.

Look at the role of music and musicians in making our communities more sustainable during Mark Pedelty’s “Ecomusicology.” His presentation will include live music to illustrate his discussion.

Why not attend the lyric writing class taught by local musician Justin Roth – bring your guitars and creativity to this hands-on session at Wolverine Farm Publick House. Justin and a few other musicians will also close out the book fest with a live performance.

For the Literature Lover

Author readings are a highlight of any good book festival, and Writings and Riffs delivers with three different readings showcasing 15 fiction, nonfiction, and poetry voices. Additionally, Khadijah Queen, an award-winning poet and essayist, will be featured at various presentations, readings, and panel discussions throughout the event.

Authors including Khadijah Queen, Chris Rosales, Lisa Zimmerman, and Junior Burke will read their work.

Wolverine Farm Publick House hosts all of the readings, so you can settle in and drink up all the words and poetry. Book sales and signings to follow.

  • Poetry Lounge (3:00-4:15pm)
  • The Listening Room: Fiction & Nonfiction Readings (4:30-5:45pm)
  • Deep Tracks: Poetry (6:00-7:15pm)

For the Writer

The book festival not only brings authors to you, but it provides the opportunity to learn from them through free writing workshops and self-publishing presentations held throughout the day at Old Town Library.

Teresa Funke’s presentation “How to Self-Publish Successfully” is open to anyone interested in attending, but the writing workshops and one-on-one publishing consulting require advanced registration by calling 221-6740 or visiting the Library’s online events calendar.

For the Book Collector

Each author will participate in book signings, an opportunity for festival-goers to purchase a copy of their book (or bring their own copy from home) and interact one-on-one with the author.

Chloe Leisure signs copies of her book during the 2016 FoCo Book Fest.

Books can be purchased prior to the festival and on the day of the event at Old Firehouse Books. The bookstore will also have a remote store set up at both Block One Events and at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House for people to purchase books that day.

There’s no one right way to experience FoCo Book Fest, and our recommendations certainly don’t cover every available option or author. To review the entire day’s schedule, and learn about individual authors and presenters, be sure to visit the festival website:

Printed programs will be available at each venue on the day of the event and throughout Old Town prior to the festival. You can also download a copy from the website.

See you at Writings and Riffs!