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Writers at Woody Point wrapped up another successful season this weekend in Gros Morne National Park

Young fan Alena Lockyer goes in for a closer look during Tim Baker’s performance Saturday during the “Writer’s in the Wild” hike.  Guest speaker Ron MacLean can be seen in the background.
Young fan Alena Lockyer goes in for a closer look during Tim Baker’s performance Saturday during the “Writer’s in the Wild” hike. Guest speaker Ron MacLean can be seen in the background.

The Writers at Woody Point festival wrapped up its 13th season over the weekend to sold-out audiences in Gros Morne National Park.

Coach's Corner co-host Ron MacLean shares a story during a hike as a part of the Writers at Woody Point festival.

The festival has been bringing writers of all ilk — fiction authors, poets, and journalists — together with musicians and heading into Gros Morne National Park since 2004. The project was funded by Friends of Writers at Woody Point.
On Saturday, Woody Point bustled with festival-goers, the writers themselves and tourists. The town’s quaint Water Street, its coffee shops and stores, were all crammed with bodies.
Christine Koch, who has spent the past 18 summers in Woody Point working and sustaining a small art gallery of her work says the festival has always brought this kind of buzz to town.
 “I can feel the excitement level rising as people prepare: the businesses, the locals. Everyone gets quite excited about it.”
Koch said part of the appeal of the festival is its intimacy — the proximity to and interactions with great writers and musicians that festival-goers can enjoy.
“You can sit down to dinner with a famous writer. Or meet them in a bar” she said.
The festival which went on for five days featured readings and discussions by Annie Proulx, Ed Riche, Ed Roach, Noah Richler, Mary Walsh, Linden MacIntyre, Lisa Moore, Tim Baker, and several others.  
The closing weekend of the festival kicked off with a couple of these, author Lisa Moore and singer/songwriter Tim Baker joining Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada to lead listeners of all ages into the woods via the Lomond River trail, just outside Woody Point.
The hike dubbed “Writers in the Wild” saw a turnout of over 200 people last year for a benefit for Gord Downie — and had a similar turnout this year.   
The trek began with members from Parks Canada acknowledging and welcoming the hikers to “the land of the Mi’kmaq people” in a meadow at the head of the Lomond River trail. Hikers were then told that the land around them was frequented by a Mi’kmaq Chieftan, Mattie Mitchell.
The two-kilometre hike featured intermittent breaks for the guest speakers to perform. The first of these was Lisa Moore, who read from her most recent novel, “Flannery,” a young adult novel published in 2017. Hikers filled the verdant space surrounding the trail to hear Moore read a passage synonymous with her work — where a narrator explores the awkwardness of daily life through mounting sensual detail, and climaxing with a reveal of a specific want or insight into a character. This time the reveal was into the fears of a young conceptual artist, clinging to her work while trying to avoid penury.
Following the reading, the hikers moved on single-file through the trail, before stopping at a clearing to hear Tim Baker, best known as the singer/songwriter of band Hey Rosetta!, perform. Baker stood atop a guitar case in the middle of a circle of listeners, and seemingly wove magic through a short, three-song set. As Ron MacLean would say during the last stop of the hike, Baker’s songs seemed to attract all kinds of life forms, from a dragonfly which perched atop his shoulder for the remainder of a song to a very young listener, Alena Lockyear, who climbed onto the makeshift stage, and used Baker’s leg to support herself while Tim sang “Beneath The Cedars.”
MacLean’s talk was the last for the hikers. The popular co-host of Coach’s Corner used his time with the hikers to make them laugh — with stories about infamous colleague Don Cherry, and other live mishaps with Hockey Night in Canada — before attempting to describe the ineffable qualities of Gros Morne, as well as the festival itself, describing the national parks in Canada as a godsend.
If getting enough bodies out on a crisp, early Saturday morning for what Fred Sheppard — the Maclean-dubbed Don Cherry of Parks Canada — described as an ancient human tradition of telling and listening to stories in the celebration of people’s journey was a success — then the Writers in the Wild hike, and the rest of the sold-out events at the festival were definitely a success.

Author Lisa Moore reads from her most recent novel, “Flannery.”
Hey Rosetta! frontman Tim Baker plays a tune during the "Writers in the Wild" hike Saturday.
The "Writers in the Wild" hike brought out plenty of onlookers and gave them the chance to listen to author Lisa Moore read excerpts from her latest novel.

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