Bookstock is an annual literary festival held in Woodstock, Vermont. We attract approximately 1,000 people and host 40-50 authors and other events during the course of the weekend. Bookstock 2023 will be held on June 23-25 and is free and open to the public.
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Name of Applicant / Organization / Business
Bookstock - Green Mountain Festival of Words
PO Box 666, Woodstock, VT 05091
Name of Project Coordinator
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Applicatant / Organizational Description
Bookstock supports the cultural richness and diversity of Vermont and New England. Our region is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres, from national Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing and other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists in an intimate setting, at no cost.
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Detailed Project Description
Our goal is to make Bookstock one of the most beloved literary festivals in the country. We are transforming the festival using board members, staff, and volunteers with substantial qualifications in literary projects, event management and marketing. In 2022, we brought Bookstock out of a two year hiatus and moved toward positive change. This year, with an expanded board and talented staff, we will bring Bookstock up to the standards of a national festival, greatly strengthening marketing and the attendee experience with more headliners and a reinvigorated Green experience. In 2024, we will build on the knowledge we learn this year and continue to grow Bookstock involving new demographics, programming and fundraising.
The next Bookstock will take place in Woodstock on June 23-25, 2023 on and around the Village Green. The event is free and open to the public. This year will be the first time that we will encourage online pre-registration to sessions in order to better manage people flow, improve the participant experience, and build Bookstock’s contact database so we can better nurture relationships with participants. The activities laid out below align with and support Bookstock’s operations, program, fundraising and partnership activities.
1. Mobilize optimal turnout
a. This objective is critical to Bookstock operations. We want to mobilize turnout
while ensuring we have a manageable crowd size that doesn’t overwhelm local
2. Engage a more diverse group of attendees
a. We want people to know Bookstock as a place where they will interact with diverse voices stemming from many different viewpoints and walks of life. The festival on the Green will be an immersion of activities (book sale, music, exhibitors and more). We want to be more intentional about welcoming BIPOC, younger people including children and youth, and more economically diverse participants.
3. Promote Woodstock as a destination
a. We want Bookstock to support the economic vitality of Woodstock and the Upper Valley. We will do that by not merely speaking to our audiences' desires to be engaged, but also by positioning Bookstock as the ideal summertime experience, drawing attention to local business and natural features that embody Woodstock's historic charm and bucolic surroundings. This is the total Bookstock experience that we will market.
4. Develop Bookstock’s capacity for measurable, data-driven marketing and
a. We see Bookstock becoming one of America's most beloved book festivals. The festival has already become an incredible success being driven by a small volunteer team working on a shoestring budget. With 501(c)3 status and a nascent paid staff, we have the foundation in place for our next stage of evolution. But to be strategic in guiding Bookstock through its next five years, we need reliable data on a number of fronts. This year we will put in place the tools and systems we need to collect, analyze and draw reliable insights for future decision-making. We also want to be mindful of making sure sessions are still accessible to folks who aren't tech savvy-we don't want online pre-registration to be a barrier, especially to older people who are used to just walking into sessions and will find ways to accommodate for them.
Use a combination of earned media (local and regional print, radio, blogs) owned media (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, website, word of mouth, partnerships, and local advertising (print fliers) to inform and excite our target market via a drumbeat of communications that kicks off in January and crescendos in the lead-up to Bookstock. While we will reach further afield with major announcements (i.e. we will reach out to the Boston Globe with our headliner announcement), we will focus on reaching audiences in three geographic areas: Woodstock, Upper Valley, and New England. We feel 2/3 of attendees will be people outside of Woodstock and the immediate surrounding communities. We will also target younger people and parents with small children. We will use earned media coverage and evidence from data capture to support fundraising, partnership development and speaker recruitment.
Beyond what is listed below we will develop promotional partnerships with local
business/organizations and social media influencers in February-May as well as solicit
foundations, businesses and individuals for funding.
January – begin media blast with feature story and subsequent social media blasts, continue to secure authors/speakers for the event
February – Announce headline authors/speakers, update website to resonate with more
March – release program teaser
April/May – announce additional authors/speakers, design and print promotional materials,
design links for online pre-registration in all relevant communications, design surveys/evaluations for participants, partners and local businesses.
June – assign audience counter to all sessions
Post event – execute surveys
Every member of the board (our board has grown to seven members) and our two paid staff have a passion for Bookstock and are dedicated to growing the brand and making it the premiere book festival in the Upper Valley.
We are currently working on a strategic plan for the next five years in developing additional
partnerships, funding and community engagement. Michael Stoner is facilitating our strategic plan efforts. We have created a solid marketing and communications plan, which is shared throughout this grant application. Below are biographies on our two paid staff members who bring a wealth of expertise. Our staff are individuals with substantial business experience in literary and cultural event planning and execution.
Program Director – Elizabeth Wilcox returned to Vermont in 2020 to start AuthorPods, an
information, event and scheduling platform that seeds community driven conversation about
books with an initial focus on Vermont authors. Having lived in Vermont and attended
Middlebury College, Elizabeth previously worked in London, Hong Kong and the U.S. as a
journalist and producer before moving into developing digital content, including training in
social and emotional learning. She is an author and cofounder of AmeUp, a networking group for creative entrepreneurs in the Upper Valley. An excerpt from her upcoming novel awarded her finalist for the 2021 Vermont Writers Prize.
Event Managers – Morgan and Jeremiah Brophy (StrongRabbit), StrongRabbit provides event and production management, solving problems before they arise, and brings the vision of those who dream big to life. Morgan and Jeremiah refer to themselves as a Swiss army knife! They provide production & event management, box office support, volunteer management, websites, graphic design, video editing, marketing, operations and so much more. Having moved back to the Upper Valley after a decade away, they bring experience from the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, Washing National Opera, Drum Tao and more. They are very excited to bring their knowledge and enthusiasm of event management to Bookstock.
We are thrilled to have such a strong group of people dedicated to Bookstock.
Project Budget Narrative
Funds requested from the EDC will help cover staffing costs and marketing and advertising. All funding noted in our budget is contingent on grants/proposals being awarded and are not guaranteed.
Our overall budget is attached.
Project Budget - Itemized
What will success look like?
Well attended events with local resident participation and visitors from the Upper Valley in
written and oral expression. Great turnout on the Green. Little problems with parking, bathrooms, etc. A high degree of satisfaction by all attendees at our events, which
we will gather from the data we will collect on attendees, participants and community partners.
We want high attendance at all author sessions, a very active Town Green, satisfaction among
participating organizations, endorsement by the local business community, requests and
recommendations for the 2024 festival and most important……inspiration and greater
confidence among many Woodstock and neighboring residents for enriching their lives through reading and writing and the overall festival experience.
We want to ensure that businesses and organizations in Woodstock benefit by great visibility.
As mentioned, we will gather this information through evaluations and surveys.
Community support for this project
Organizations which have earned income due to Bookstock
The NPWL runs its own on-going large used book sale program year-round, which is in part
supplied by donations of books to the library made on behalf of Bookstock. The library takes all its donated books, culls from the flow thousands of books for its own sale such as in its foyer and for online sale of valuable volumes. Bookstock year-round picks up the books that the Library elects not to cull, thus relieving it of disposal tasks. Between 2009 and 2022, half of the net proceeds of the massive book sale on the Green was shared with the library, averaging about $3,000 a year. The library and Bookstock have agreed with a different formula for 2023 partly in exchange for Bookstock’s continued promotion of book donations to the library.
The Yankee Bookshop is the exclusive seller of books by Bookstock authors during the festival. We gratefully acknowledge the personnel and logistical burdens imposed by these sales on the book shop.
Organizations which receive promotional support by Bookstock.
Starting in 2022, and enabled by the substantial expansion of Bookstock’s volunteer and paid staff resources, Bookstock has applied its social media on behalf of some of its partners for their selected events unrelated to Bookstock. They include Artistree and Pentangle. We expect to enlarge this domain of support, with an understanding that while our constituencies overlap there are many persons who read our social media who are not close to these other organizations.
Organizations which have paid for author expenses
Pentangle in 2022 and again in 2023 has made significant payments to authors whom it has
chosen to present, as part of an increasingly close collaboration. We provide to Pentangle
financial support for some of its costs of showcasing these authors.
The Ottauquechee Health Foundation routinely pays the author expenses of one or two authors whom it has helped to support because it values the themes of these authors.
Organizations which receive direct financial support from Bookstock.
Andy Smith, Teacher, Computer Science, Woodstock Union High School, has for three years led a small team of high school students who demonstrate virtual reality in a tent on the Green during Bookstock. In 2022, Bookstock arranged for a grant of $1,300 to Smith to acquire the latest version of Oculus headsets. These headsets are the unrestricted property of the high school.
We stand ready to pay the author expenses of authors who speak both at Bookstock and at a private function sponsored by a local organization. We have done that with Zack’s Place, Shir Shalom, and the North Chapel.
Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park and Bookstock has collaborated a number of times for Bookstock to pay the expenses of authors whom at the request of MBRNP deliver their Bookstock session in the Park.
Inns which participate in Bookstock by lodging authors
Since the founding Bookstock, inns have contributed rooms for Bookstock authors. The inns
that contributed rooms in 2022 were Woodstock Inn and Resort, The Vesper, The Jackson
House Inn, The Shire Woodstock, and Sleep Woodstock. Charlotte Hollingsworth, owner of the
Ardmore Inn, has very graciously arranged for these rooms. In 2023, we are changing our
approach to pay the inns for these rooms.
Local persons retained by Bookstock
Bookstock makes minor payments to a number of local persons for its administrative and
programming operations. As a significant financial transaction, we pay a local resident to
design and prepare our physical program.
Organizations which provide volunteers to Bookstock
Change the World Kids and NPWL for activity related to the Green. All the organizations serving as venues (in 2022, the NWPL, North Chapel, Pentangle, History Center, Thompson Senior Center, and MBRNHP) provide to Bookstock essential help by their paid staff to put on Bookstock.
Non-profit / government organizations which every year or frequently collaborate in planning
and putting on Bookstock
NWPL, History Center, Pentangle, North Chapel (each every year since 2009); Thompson Senior Center, - St. James Church, Town Hall (Selectmen’s Room), Village and Town of Woodstock, Artistree, Chamber of Commerce, Ottauquechee Health Foundation, Sustainable Woodstock, Vermont Standard, Change the World Kids, Masonic Hall, the Learning Lab.
Approximately 75 individuals made Bookstock happen in 2022. About 80% + of these individuals live in Woodstock. We will continue to count on volunteers in Woodstock to make Bookstock 2023 successful.
Community support for this project
Last year in our grant we asked that the EDC consider 2022 to be the first of two years of
rebuilding and expanding Bookstock.
We increased funding last year by almost 60% and that doesn’t include the funding from the
EDC. Our goal is that our current objectives and strategies will continue to build on future
funding, as we continue to grow our private sector financial support. We feel this year, as we
launch a robust marketing and communications plan, our brand will grow as well as our funding moving us closer to adequate funding for future years.