September 28, 2023


Blustery conditions and gloomy clouds didn’t stop book lovers from venturing out for the 14th annual Word on the Street book and magazine festival held at multiple venues across Kitchener on Sept. 20.

Whether you were looking for a fun family outing, a chance to hear guest authors such as Gail Vaz-Oxlade, or to peruse multiple vendors, Word on the Street had something for everyone to enjoy.

Despite a rough start to the day, the sun managed to make its way through the clouds and with it, people of all ages came out to check out what was happening at the many locations around Kitchener.

“If the weather holds out, there will be thousands of people,” said Leslie Cooney, one of many book vendors in attendance. “As a company, this is our eighth or ninth year coming. It’s important for us at Chapters to do community events because big businesses are often seen as uncaring but we aren’t. It’s important for us to come show our support for local events.”

Rebecca Rourke, one of the vendors from Chapters, explained why Word on the Street is so important.

“Literacy is important for everyone, but also you can see there’s a real sense of community behind this event.”

Rourke, who was attending the event for the second time, said Word on the Street is also a great event for kids.

Both Cooney and Rourke agreed that as a community, literacy is a major focus and attending events such as Word on the Street helps encourage everyone to enjoy books.

Multiple vendors set up free activities and crafts for children outside of Kitchener City Hall, and musical entertainment was provided by popular children’s entertainer, Erik Traplin.

Word on the Street volunteers Valentina Acuna and Monica Ha agreed with Rourke saying, “Word on the Street helps to promote literacy, but also gets people away from technology and back to books.”

Authors in attendance for this year’s event included Lesley Livingston, Gail Gallant and Sam Sutherland. At Civic Square in front of Kitchener City Hall, special guests reading to children included Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr and Miss Oktoberfest Tara Hebblethwaite.

New this year was The Word on the Street Bites. Participating coffee shops, restaurants and the Kitchener Market itself housed authors, poets, bloggers, workshops and more which added a tasty option to this year’s lineup.

“My kids and I love to read and because it’s a book festival, it seemed appropriate that we come,” Sasha Gruetzmacher said.

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