Reading series features Wapsipinicon Almanac



Timothy Fay (pictured above), Avery Gregurich and Doug McReynolds shared excerpts of their contributions to the Wapsipinicon Almanac at the Hearst Center for the Arts on Thursday, Feb. 28.


On the evening of Thursday, Feb. 28, over 50 people congregated in the Hearst Center for the Arts to attend the latest Final Thursday Reading Series, which featured Wapsipinicon Almanac publisher Timothy Fay and his guest contributors. The reading commemorated the 25th and final issue of the Almanac.

The event began at 7:15 p.m. with an introduction from Jim O’Loughlin, associate professor of English at UNI, who explained that the series has been held in the Hearst Center for 19 seasons.

O’Loughlin began the traditional open-mic session with his short story “Of the Mountains.” Several authors, UNI students and community members alike, then proceeded to read their prose and poetry aloud. Their topics ranged from love, life, death and even Cedar Falls’ snowy conditions.

A short break followed, where attendees were encouraged to help themselves to free Sidecar coffee served with local Hansen’s Dairy cream. A table at the back of the room held publications by local authors and the final edition of the Wapsipinicon Almanac for sale.

At 8 p.m., O’Loughlin prefaced the main event by explaining that this Final Thursday reading was the first of two UNI events to feature Fay and the Almanac. The second will be a discussion and celebration of the publication’s run, hosted by O’Loughlin, Fay and Brian Pals at 11 a.m. the next day in Rod Library.

Fay has printed the Wapsipinicon Almanac with traditional letterpress technology since 1988. He began his portion of the evening by reading an excerpt of his “Talk of the Township” section of the most recent Almanac, which he had penned since the publication’s fourth copy.

Fay then introduced his first guest, Avery Gregurich. Gregurich, who hails from the Des Moines area, read parts of his narrative essay “Controlled Burn,” which was also published in the most recent edition. The piece details his experience researching the Meskwaki tribe and their means of income on their settlement through casino, tobacco and  hemp.

Fay followed by reading a short anecdote about the locals of Anamosa, the home of Fay’s Route 3 Press letterpress printing business.

The next featured contributor was Cedar Falls author Doug McReynolds. His essay wistfully described the county fair as timeless and nostalgic. “There’s no phenomenon that binds us so securely to a place and time as a county fair,” McReynolds read. “The county fair belongs to us.”

Fay closed the night with two more readings. The first was an excerpt from the opening issue of the Almanac, published in 1988. In it, Fay relates his embarking on his publishing journey to setting off in a canoe.

Fay then read a farewell letter included in the final issue.

“The Wapsipinicon Almanac jumped from a canoe onto dry ground in May of 1988. I’ve decided it’s time for it to slip back into the current and course its way downstream,” Fay reads. “It’s been an interesting journey. I can’t think of anything else I’d prefer giving my time to for the past 30 years.”

As the event concluded, Fay, Gregurich and McReynolds received the audience’s standing ovation.