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Home News Plum Creek Literacy Festival Celebrates 20 Years

by Caleb Haack


The Plum Creek Literacy Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting returning authors and illustrators in addition to new presenters on October 1-3.

The festival’s mission is to encourage a love of reading, writing and books by bringing nationally renowned authors and illustrators to Nebraska.

It began in 1996 with a single author, Janet Stevens, presenting to about 200 children and adults in one day.

Since then, the festival has grown by adding more authors, days and schools. In 2015, the Plum Creek Literacy Festival accommodated more than 10,000 attendees over three days, and there were 1,500 children on the waiting list for the children’s day.

This year’s featured authors, illustrators and conference leaders included Clayton Anderson, Debbie Diller, Tomie dePaola, Andrew Clements, Carmen Deedy, Denise Fleming, Steven Kellogg, Eric Litwin, Peter Lourie, Jerry Pallotta, Richard Peck and Janet Stevens.

On Thursday, Oct. 1, the authors and illustrators visited local elementary schools and presented to over 5,000 students and teachers.

On Friday, around 5,000 students and teachers attended events on Concordia’s campus. These events included Literacy on the Lawn, session presented by the festival speakers that students took participated in.

At the adult conference day on Saturday, about 7,000 adults attended five rotations of sectionals offered by the festival speakers as well as a luncheon, which included a speech from keynote speaker Richard Peck.

Janell Uffelman, who has been the festival director since its beginning, oversaw the festival proceedings for the last time this year. She will be replaced in November by Concordia alumnus Dylan Teut, who became the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival coordinator in the summer of 2015.

Teut said he attended the festival as a Concordia student in 2008, and it inspired him to become a teacher. He came back to the festival for three years when he was a first grade teacher in Illinois and even created his own version of the festival for his school.

As the festival director, Teut will take over all responsibilities, such as preparing, planning and promoting, as well as all the behind-the-scenes work to make sure the event is successful.

“Taking on the new position, I hope we can continue to seek ways we can see it grow effectively and see it reach more audiences and have more authors,” Teut said. “We’re exploring every avenue possible to see how we can involve more children.”

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