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Gather your friends and family for a virtual book celebration—authors will be coming to you online this fall. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books is switching from an in-person format to an all-virtual format.

Per CDC reports, several counties in the Black Hills region surrounding Deadwood, where the event was to be held, are at high risk for community infection.

“Health officials that we have contacted for advice have suggested that the surge will remain high for the next month,” said Ann Volin, director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, which hosts the annual event. “We believe the risk to the health of our authors, patrons, volunteers, vendors, and staff is too great to move forward as originally planned.”

“We have been following current information and data, trying to formulate the best decision we can at this time for an event that will take place in three weeks.  We can’t predict exactly what will happen Oct. 1-3, but we know the pandemic will still be a serious health concern, and we can’t take a chance on a single person’s health.”

The Festival, in its 19th year of bringing readers and writers together, typically includes more than 100 public presentations and was scheduled for Oct. 1-3 in Deadwood. In lieu of in-person events, the 50-plus authors on the 2021 roster will discuss books, teach workshops, and interact with fans via Zoom and Facebook live.

While personal interactions will be missed, the virtual format offers connection for readers around the United States and the world.

“We will host a robust virtual event, and we’re pleased that this format allows anyone in any location the ability to use an internet connection to enjoy conversations with fellow readers and highly-respected authors,” Volin said.

The 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books will kick off with a virtual welcome on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 30 and continue with events throughout the weekend and into mid-October.

Featured at the 2021 Festival are local and regional authors as well as nationally recognized writers such as Pulitzer winner N. Scott Momaday, Newbery Honor-winning children’s author Kwame Alexander, and many others. For the full lineup, and information about tickets and access to the virtual event, please visit sdbookfestival.com.

About the South Dakota Festival of Books

Still growing after 19 years, the Festival brings together readers and writers for readings, lectures, panel discussions and book signings. In typical years, South Dakota’s premier literary event draws thousands of attendees, including approximately 5,000 students who meet children’s/YA authors and illustrators at both the Festival itself and in school visits.

Each year, the Festival of Books features a common read for children and adults via the One Book South Dakota program: The 2021 One Book is “The Children’s Blizzard” by Melanie Benjamin. The 2021 Young Readers One Book South Dakota is “Imagine/Imagina,” written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.

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