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Armchair travel at mini booktown festival

John Hellemans will be presenting his book ‘A Biker’s Tale’ at Featherston Booktown’s mini-festival on Labour Weekend. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

John Lazo-Ron
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Despite covid-19 restrictions making it more difficult to travel, domestically and abroad, Featherston Booktown operations manager Mary Biggs said we can still travel using our imaginations and the fine storytelling of our writers.

This coming Labour Weekend [Saturday, October 23] Featherston Booktown will run two events showcasing two writers whose words will transport people from the comfort of Featherston’s Anzac Hall.

A firm favourite with book festival audiences and his legion of readers, Biggs said she has no doubt one of the writers, Rick Gekoski, will entertain in fine style, sharing stories of his years working in the rare book trade.

Featherston writer and broadcaster Noelle McCarthy will strap in to travel with Gekoski through his life and times, discussing people he’s met, books he’s discovered, read and written, and dragons he’s slain.

“Rick’s session is sure to capture anyone interested in books, literature and travel, or anyone who simply loves an entertaining tale well told,” Biggs said.

“We consider ourselves extremely lucky that Rick, who usually lives between the UK and the USA, happened to be in New Zealand with his Kiwi wife when covid-19 struck.”

Biggs said author John Hellemans would be the other writer on show.

She said Hellemans plans to elaborate on the details of his hilarious cycling adventures during the 2018 Tour Aotearoa event in his book ‘A Biker’s Tale’.

As Hellemans rode the 3000km circuit from Cape Reinga to Bluff that year, he would also find the time to hammer away at his laptop each day to make sense of all that passed through his mind during his day of pedalling.

That labour resulted in ‘A Biker’s Tale’, which Kiwi cycling pioneers, the Kennett Brothers, have already given the thumbs-up to, calling it “a must-read for casual and serious bikers alike”.

At the event, Hellemans will discuss the uphill grunts and the downhill freewheeling and everything in between with fellow elite sportsperson, writer and spoken word performer Professor Roger Robinson.

Biggs said the event ties in nicely with the Cycling Series NZ race in Masterton the very next day [Sunday, October 24] and welcomed any cyclists competing in the race to come along for Hellemans story.

“We are utterly delighted to have all the above guests at our Labour Weekend literary escape, especially in times such as these,” she said.

“A special thank you to our patrons, Liz Stringer and Robbie Morrison, whose generosity enabled us to hold these events.”

Biggs said both of Saturday’s events at Anzac Hall [62 Bell St] would be large enough to enable social distancing in accordance with level-2 restrictions.

All attendees must wear a mask and scan their covid app or sign in for contact tracing.

In between Gekoski and Hellemans events, The Featherston Poetry Competition’s award ceremony will be held, along with a poetry reading.

The Featherston Sports Hub will be holding one of their famous sausage sizzles, and Lambertos Coffee Cart will supply delicious coffee for audiences outside the hall.

For the Love of Books and Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop will have books for sale and the authors will sign their books after their events.

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