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Photos: Calgary WordFest

Wordfest, which took place in Calgary from Oct. 13 to 18, celebrated its 20th anniversary with programming featuring more than 70 authors – such as Lawrence Hill, Anakana Schofield, Raziel Reid, Susin Nielsen, and Nino Ricci –  in panels, workshops, readings, and more this year.

Here are some highlights from its two-decade run:

1995: Wordfest is created when Don Stein, associate director of planning for the Banff Centre, reaches out to potential partners like the Writers Guild of Alberta to help promote the Centre’s writing and reading programs with a festival presented in both Calgary and Banff.

1996: The first Wordfest runs for four days and puts on over two-dozen events with more than 50 authors, including Margaret Atwood and the Vinyl Café’s Stuart McLean.

1997: Wordfest is incorporated as a not-for-profit and now spans five days.

2000: Two-time Governor General’s Literary Award winner Mordecai Richler gives a reading that incorporates a nod to the Banff Springs Hotel as part of the Banff Distinguished Author Series. Richler passed away less than a year later, in July 2001.

2004: Award-winning playwright Michel Tremblay brings Some Night My Prince Will Come, recently translated from French, to Wordfest, with vignettes of the performance brought out during the presentation.

2009: Event host Nirmala Naidoo has a memorable back and forth with Montreal author Dany Laferrière when the author, among other things, addresses the audience to state, “The interviewer is sexy, yes?” and jokingly answers a question about who’d he like to interview by saying himself, as people seemed to enjoy it.

2010: Jo Steffens, former curator of New York’s Municipal Arts Society, becomes executive director at Wordfest, taking over from founding director Anne Green.

2013: Author Chuck Palahniuk sends boxes to Wordfest’s office with instructions that they not be opened before his arrival. They turned out to be filled with inflatable toys Palahniuk used for his performance.

2015: Shelley Youngblut, former western editor of The Globe and Mail, becomes Wordfest’s interim general director, taking over from Jo Steffens. The Banff Centre and Wordfest part ways, as the centre seeks to focus on emphasizing its own author events.

See highlights of the five-day anniversary event below.