Friday, Saturday & Sunday, April 27-29, 2012
HISTORY OF CREATIVITY IN THE RIVER VALLEY
People enjoying LitFest 2001
the turn of the 20th century, Senator Bob LaFollette, remembered
nationally as the founder of the Progressive Movement, became Governor
He forged the vision of the Wisconsin Idea--"a government
infused with the talent of trained professionals, guided by the
expertise of our wisest scholars and answerable to an active and
This more than anything propelled the development of the state's rural arts
programs across in the decades that followed.
of Wisconsin President Glenn Frank, in the 1920s, was especially aware of the role
that the arts played in the Wisconsin Idea.
He hired Dean Chris Christensen to head the College of
Agriculture, believing that the college had a special role to play in
developing the talents of farm folk.
In 1945, he hired Robert E. Gard who founded the Wisconsin Idea
Theater out of the Ag College--ideas expressed through drama.
He helped Wisconsinites turn ideas into radio drama or a stage
He also founded the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association, a
network of thousands of writers, which continues today as the Regional
Another outcome of these efforts was the founding of the American Players Theater (APT). According to Dusty Priebe, a co-founder, he said,
Priebe took Gard out to the property being considered for the outdoor theater.
APT gave its first performance in 1980.
It is a professional repertory theater performing primarily
Shakespeare and the classics.
a result of this rich tradition of creative energy and beauty of the
Wisconsin River Valley, Spring Green became a magnet for acclaimed
artists and craftspeople of all kinds.
Painters, potters, jewelry makers, weavers, wood workers and
glass makers all came.
Studios, shops and galleries became part of the landscape around
the small town that nestles between the rolling hills.
writers came, too!
Book clubs were formed.
Spring Green became a hotspot for readers, claiming more book
clubs per capita than anywhere.
Little wonder then one book lover, in May of 1997, came across an
article in the New York Times, "Splendor Among the Sheep:
Literary Festival Brings Glitter to Rural Wales."
A committee was formed, and the rural festival in Wales became
the inspiration for the first Spring Green Literary Festival in 1998.
It was held at Hilltop, a summer camp with horses, a historic
barn and cabins, located across the road from Taliesin. Today
the festival draws nearly 100 readers and writers from a four-state area.
festival remained at Hilltop until 2004 when it moved to Hillside School
The present site offers a theater, the Fellowship Dining Room,
small exhibit areas and magnificent landscaped grounds for
viewing the ancient river valley.
The dramatic spaces are prime examples of Wright's mastery in
wood and stone.
The theater, which seats 100, was used by Wright and his students
for musical and theatrical performances.
The tradition continues today.
And, the Welsh connection comes full circle with the celebration
of the literary arts at the Spring Green Literary Festival.
Now in its 11th year of operation, this intimate festival has featured a wide range of well-known authors, including:
Khmer poet, U Sam Oeur (left), pauses in conversation
A .pdf of this year's brochure will be available soon. This requires Adobe Reader 7.0. Click here to download the latest version of Adobe Reader (this is free).
* Registrants for the Spring Green Literary Festival will be issued tickets for the Friday night reading. The Gard Theater seats approximately 250 people and preference will be given to LitFest registrants with tickets.
Spring Green Literary Festival