FoCo Book Fest to celebrate books and brews in Old Town

Over the decades, a brewing culture has been developing in Fort Collins. From the New Belgium headquarters in Old Town to tea startup Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, FoCo has a lot to offer in the beverage department. But, there is also a vibrant literary community of prolific poets and novelists.

The upcoming FoCo Book Fest, an idea five years in the making, will be a combination of both aspects of our local culture, a celebration of Fort Collins’ passion for books and brews.

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From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 22, over 50 presenters will discuss, teach and enjoy the arts of writing and brewing at 40 free sessions spread out over Old Town, all within walking distance of each other. Events will occur at Old Firehouse Books, the Downtown Artery, Wolverine Farm, Bas Bleu Theatre, New Belgium Breweries, Bean Cycle Roasters, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and the Old Town Library. The festival is sponsored by the CSU Morgan Library and New Belgium Brewing.

Independent from the festival but closely associated will be a presentation by Colorado Governor Hickenlooper titled “Beer and Politics” at 3:30 p.m. at the Bas Bleu Theatre. Hickenlooper will share his life story, from his ownership of a craft brewery in Denver to his successful foray into politics. This event will have limited access, so hurry and get free tickets at the Old Town Library while they last. There will be a signing of his new book “The Opposite of Woe” at 4:30 p.m. also at the Bas Bleu Theatre that is open to the public.

The festival will be headlined by the panel “The Books that Made Me” at New Belgium Brewery, attended my Horst Dornbusch, a world renowned brew expert and author, and Fort Collins writers Mark Pendergrast and Katrina Roberts.

Katie Auman, FoCo Book Fest promoter and planner, said this panel will be about influential books.

“It will be a nice blend of different ideas and really a celebration of the books that influence us throughout our lives,” Auman said.

Another panel will be “The Muses: Beverages that Inspire Writing” at the Downtown Artery. Local writers, lead by CSU English Professor Camille Dungy, will delve into their sources of creativity and the drinks which stir them up.

Throughout the day, there will be presentations at Wolverine Farm and New Belgium Brewery covering brewing practices and issues. Industry professionals will discuss the ethics of brewing as it relates to water conservation and fair trade, as well as malting and wood infusing techniques.

Stop by Happy Lucky’s Teahouse in the morning to write some haikus while sampling their global tea collection. Later, learn how to brew a nice cup of Kombucha tea for yourself. Then, walk over to Bean Cycle Roasters for some coffee brewing demos.

There will be book signings at Old Firehouse Books and other venues at all times of the day. Look through the list of featured writers on the FoCo Book Fest website to see which local writers you want to go visit.

Interactive writing workshops will be ongoing throughout the day for avid writers or anyone interested in improving their writing skills. Held by local professionals and CSU’s own Camilla Dungy, these workshops are free but limited. Some of the workshops require pre-registration, so check the FoCo Book Fest schedule online beforehand.

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Brew expert Horst Dornbusch will host his own panel titled “Beer, Books, and What Makes us Human” at the Downtown Artery. In it, Dornbusch will talk about what he enjoys in life and also about how beverages stretch across different cultural lines, according to Auman.

The festival will also have its own beverages. New Belgium, Bean Cycle and Happy Lucky’s will all create their own limited edition beer, coffee and tea just for the occasion. These custom brews will be in high demand and short supply, so get them while they last.

Fort Collins is a culture with its own stories, and the FoCo Book Fest is a celebration of those stories.

Auman said she wants it to be “an engaging opportunity for people from all sorts of backgrounds to come and intersect with each other.”

In combining both the local literary and brewing spheres, it will “try to encompass a lot of what our community is passionate about,” said Auman.

There is going to be something for everyone at the FoCo Book Fest. Be you a brewing enthusiast, a poet or just someone who loves Kombucha, you will be guaranteed to see something you are passionate about.