About the Festival

The Origins

The dream for The Milford Readers and Writers Festival was initiated in 2016 by Amy Ferris, Robert Levine, Suzanne Braun Levine, and Sean Strub with the mission of giving those who read books the opportunity to interact with those who write them in a relaxed setting.

Together with those founders, a team of book lovers from the community was quickly formed and the first Festival was put together in six months. Our vision became a reality when the inaugural Milford Readers and Writers Festival debuted the first weekend of October 2016, with a star line-up of authors, poets, performers, chefs, gardeners, conservationists, and more.  The tradition of featuring influential writers was established from the start, with John Berendt, Gloria Steinem, and MK Asante as well as a performance by Humans Collective appearing on stage at the Milford Theatre. They were attracted by the opportunity to meet people who actually read their work and to enjoy historic Milford. 

A variety of venues around Milford, including Grey Towers National Historic Site, Hotel Fauchere, Dimmick Inn, Pike County Public Library, Waterwheel Cafe, Bakery & Bar, and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church also hosted free panels and special events.

After that very successful first event, which was fiscally-sponsored by Milford Presents, Inc., the festival organizers incorporated as Pike Artworks, Inc., a 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization. The first board meeting was held April 2, 2017 with a founding board comprising Edson Whitney (Chair), Amy Ferris (Vice Chair), Barbara Zappile (Secretary), Michael Trenner (Treasurer), Barbara de Vries (Creative Director), Roland Edwards, Bob Levine, Lillian Longendorfer, Sean Strub and Diana Wiener. Suzanne Braun Levine joined the board shortly thereafter. Over the years, others who have served or currently serve on our board include Carol McManus (now Vice Chair), Rocco Zappile (now Treasurer), Rebecca Lindsey, Jennifer Ziegler, Brian Carso, Linda Fields, Verne Kreger, and Rose Chiocchi.  Dana Bree, Michelle Oram, and Barbara Whitney are long-serving dedicated committee members.

In subsequent years, we have brought many luminaries to our festival, including Alan Alda, Lee Child, Anne Perry, Helen Zia, Patricia Bosworth, Robin Morgan, Martha Frankel, Farai Chideya, Len & Heather Summerhayes Cariou, Martin Jude Farawell, Frances FitzGerald, Lucian Truscott IV, Bob Eckstein, Bill Goldstein, Anne-Christine d’Adesky, Susan Faludi, Paul Freedman, Phil Klay, Brooke Warner, David Borchart, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Dan Parent, Admiral Joseph Sestak, Susan Faludi, Carol Jenkins, Barbara deVries, John Leland, Tim Teeman, Duncan Hannah, Tim Weiner, Lisa Lampanelli, Mary Frances Berry, John DiLeo, Phil Murphy, Richard C. Morais, Melinda Chateauvert, Samuel R. Delany, George M. Johnson, Mark S. King, Gordon Van Gelder, Nelson DeMille, James Kirchick, Bob Guccione, Jr., Sheila Weller, Paula Giddings, Tim Murphy, Steven Thrasher and more.

Our goal remains to serve Milford by hosting an annual festival to bring writers and readers together in an intimate setting.

The Milford Theater first opened a century ago as a silent movie house. When talkies replaced silent films, the theater was updated with a sound system and remained a popular destination until TV took over in the sixties after which attendance diminished and the theater fell into disrepair. Fifty years and several owners later, the theater has been transformed and renovated while its historic and architectural integrity and character. The theater is also the home of the annual Black Bear Film Festival and other special events, performances, and screenings.

“In an exquisite scenic enclave only a stone’s throw from New York, Milford’s increasingly popular Readers and Writers Festival has become one of America’s most stimulating literary venues–for first-rank authors, would-be authors, and the reading public.”

-John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil