It’s March, and a cold March, to boot, which makes it a little difficult to think about an open-air book festival three months away. But we think you should, because tickets to the new Wordplay book fair in downtown Minneapolis May 11-12 are going on sale in just a few days (March 14 for Loft members, March 15 for everyone else) and you want to get them while you can. It is quite likely to sell out.
The book fair will bring in about 100 writers (including Stephen King) for two days of readings, conversations, panel discussions, craft lectures, writing workshops, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities — all centered on books. It will take place at Open Book and the Guthrie Theater.
Here’s a conversation with Wordplay founding director Steph Opitz to help guide you through the process (edited for clarity and brevity):
Q: Where do I get tickets?
A: Either in person at the Loft (in the Open Book building, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls.) or online at loft.org/wordplay/wordplay-registration.
Q: How much do tickets cost?
A: The general admittance for the street festival — which includes events at Open Book as well as the tents and stages outside — is $10 for a wristband. It’s good for both days and it comes with a $5 book voucher. If you’re 17 and under, you get in for free, but that does not come with a voucher.
For the Guthrie events, it’s a $40 wristband, which gives you weekend access to the Guthrie events plus the street festival. But it does not guarantee seating at all the Guthrie events.
The premier ticket is $250, which includes the street festival and guaranteed seating at the Guthrie events.
Q: Who will be at the Guthrie?
A: The schedule is still in flux, but most likely Luis Alberto Urrea, Dani Shapiro, Tommy Orange, Mitch Albom, Marlon James, Natasha Trethewey, to name a few.
Q: If I don’t buy a ticket in advance, can I just wander down the day of the festival and get in?
A: Maybe. Tickets might sell out. (About 10,000 tickets will be sold.) If they don’t sell out, you can get a wristband the day of, but remember that the festival is cashless.
Q: If I buy my ticket online in advance, where do I get my wristband?
A: There will be a will-call booth at the festival. Or you can pick it up in advance at the Loft.
Q: How can I see the Rock Bottom Remainders concert the night before the festival begins?
A: The Rock Bottom Remainders (a literary supergroup, with Stephen King on guitar, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and others) is a whole separate ticket. The $10 and $40 wristbands will not get you into that. Tickets are $40 and available through First Avenue, which is where the concert will be.
Q: The million dollar question is: How do I see Stephen King?
A: Stephen King will not be at the Guthrie. Stephen King will be on a stage at the street festival — you only need a $10 wristband to see him. He’ll be in conversation with Ben Percy, on a stage that isn’t tented, and we’ll have big screens, like at a rock concert! So literally thousands of people can see him if they want to.
He’ll open the festival at 10 a.m. Saturday and he’ll be the only author speaking at that time. We want to give everyone a chance to see him.
Q: No tent? But what if it’s raining?
A: Bring an umbrella. This is a rain or shine festival. Come one, come all.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks