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Yarns in Barns no highbrow festival

David Hedley and Ian Grant with some of the books that will be showcased at this year’s Yarns in Barns. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

ARTHUR HAWKES
[email protected]

Yarns in Barns, Wairarapa’s popular literary festival, will be taking place from October 8 to October 18, with many famous authors and attendees congregating from across the country.

There will be many events, taking place all across Wairarapa – from Mt Bruce to Martinborough.

The origins of the festival go back to 2003. It was the brainchild of Ian F. Grant, renowned cartoon historian and publisher with Fraser Books; David Hedley, publisher and owner of Hedley Books; and various libraries throughout Wairarapa. The aim was to try and foster a love of the printed book, and reading generally.

“It was seen as a way of celebrating those things, especially when digital was becoming such a big thing,” Hedley said. “We just wanted to foster a love of the printed book.”

Grant said he’d moved to Wairarapa before establishing Yarns in Barns, and noted a snooty attitude from those over the hill.

“I’d escaped from Wellington … It was interesting the way that Wairarapa was viewed, in that superior way that cities often do, as being a kind of ‘rural backwater’.

“Because we’d come from one world to another, we saw all the fascinating people who lived here, and the important and interesting things that happened here – and we thought that the Wellington attitude was one that should be questioned, preferably crushed.”

Hedley said that Yarns in Barns’ ideal was to draw a varied audience, and to present a veritable cornucopia of New Zealand literature, in a variety of different venues throughout Wairarapa.

“At the end of the day, the festival is for locals to enjoy, and to get the chance to meet nationally-recognised identities.

“It’s very much every person’s festival. We never wanted it to be a highbrow literary festival.”

Grant was also keen to stress the importance in having a spread of venues across Wairarapa, as things tended to be “Masterton-centric” due to the town’s size and population density.

“So many things in Wairarapa, if they’re based in Masterton, tend to be very Masterton-centric.

“So, from the start, we wanted to do things all through Wairarapa, and to appeal to young people right through to old people.”

The first event is with celebrity chef Chelsea Winter, who will be discussing her new book Supergood at Carterton Events Centre, although this has now sold out.

Hedley was able to assure attendees that the festival would stay true to its name, with a few events “definitely” taking place in barns.

  • Events are listed on the Yarns in Barns website [yarnsinbarns.co.nz] where there are Eventfinda links available.

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