Interview: Ridges & Rivers Book Festival organizers preview upcoming event in Viroqua

VIROQUA, Wis. – The second Ridges & Rivers Book Festival returns to Viroqua on April 26 & 27.  After a full year of planning event organizers say they’re excited and ready for the festival weekend.

Event Co-Founder and President of Ridges & Rivers Inc. Trina Erickson says it’s been a growing year for the organization.  “We formed our own non-profit organization and developed a Board of Directors in Summer 2023 before restructuring the festival organizing committees.  The committees are filled with incredible volunteers who have given so much of their time and talent to create the 2024 festival.” 

President of the Ridges & Rivers Book Festival Trina Erickson

“We’ve shared many times the 2023 Ridges & Rivers Book Festival attracted over 1000 people to Viroqua generating more than $100,000 in spending.  We’re hopeful the 2024 event will draw an even larger audience resulting in a higher economic boost for our local businesses.”

The 2024 festival will begin on Friday, April 26 at 9:00am at Eckhart Park where Bush Craft Camp activities for youth 0-17 will be offered throughout the entire day.  Annika Mersmann a primitive-skills educator has spent seventeen years leading groups of all ages in the wilderness. 

“Recognizing how popular bush craft activities are we wanted to offer the opportunity to provide hands on activities for kids.  The Youth Committee has been working with Annika to ensure the camp activities are authentic and educational,” said Erickson. 

Also on Friday, the Festival will feature a writing workshop with B.J. Hollars and a second workshop with Tamara Dean.  A third writing workshop featuring Kimberly Blaeser is scheduled for Saturday, April 27.  Registration for the workshops is required and can be done by visiting   

New to the festival is a partnership with Bethel Home and Servies.  The Bethel Home will serve as a host location for three programs on Friday afternoon between 1:00-5:00.  The presenters include Al Cornell, former Wisconsin Governor Marty Schreiber, Paul Palumbo, and Ruth Kittelson.  Musicians from the Viroqua Immanuel Lutheran Church will join Palumbo and Kittelson for their program.

Friday evening, April 26 at 7:30pm the Historic Temple Theatre will host, “An Evening with Spirit” featuring Psychic Medium Mollie Morning Star from Kohler, Wisconsin.  During this group event, Star will connect with random audience members and demonstrate her unique ability to provide evidence of continuing connections to those we love in the afterlife.  Tickets for the presentation may be purchased by visiting

Ridges & Rivers Book Festival Co-Chair Lisa Henner

Saturday, April 27 the festival activities will run from 9:00am-5:45pm at various locations through the City of Viroqua.  The McIntosh Memorial Library and Western Technical College will serve as the event headquarters.

“Inside the library lobby and Western Technical College, you’ll be able to visit with vendors from all over the Tri-State area.  Many of the vendors are local authors and presses.  This is a space to shop and meet some of your favorite writers and listen to authors read inside the Western Community Room.  We’ll also have coffee available courtesy of McDonalds” says Lisa Henner Co-Chair of the event.

“We invite you to enjoy the festival programs on Saturday at Vernon Memorial Healthcare, the Vernon County History Center, WTC, McIntosh Memorial Library, Encore, Temple Theatre, the Commons, and City Hall.  Many of the presenters are local but we do have presenters traveling in from as far away as New Mexico” Henner stated.

Dian Krause Co-Chair of the 2024 festival says, “During the festival we encourage you to support our local food partners. The Wooly Bear Taphouse is offering a special with Jovita’s Kitchen on both Friday and Saturday called Tacos and Beers for Books.  On Saturday the Waffle Wagon will be serving outside of the Vernon County Museum and History Center while the Lion’s Club will be serving their famous Lion burgers inside the Eagles Club from 11:00-2:00.  Dave’s Pizza is also helping the festival from their location on Main Street across from the hospital.”

Ridges & Rivers Book Festival Co-Chair Dian Krause

The 2024 festival has activities for people of all ages.  Special programs include a 50th Anniversary Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons, a cooking presentation with PBS Television Host Inga Witscher, a gardening program featuring nationally renowned speaker Melinda Myers, a presentation with staff and eagles from the National Bald Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, and a theatre production of Frog and Toad Stories.  We’re also pleased to host panel discussions, stand alone author presentations, and a story and dance performance with author Ria Thundercloud at the Historic Temple Theatre.

Those interested in learning more about and supporting the Ridges & Rivers Book Festival are encouraged to visit the event website at The Ridges & Rivers Book Festival is sponsored by many with grant support from Travel Wisconsin.  Information about the festival is available through the event website, the event Facebook page or

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