Sondra Howell, director of the Woodstock Library Forum, talks enthusiastically about the annual Valentine’s Day celebration, Lovefest with Dakota Lane. “It’s part of the many forums we have at Woodstock Library. Dakota started doing this way back, maybe 20 years ago. [The event] changes year to year. In the past, she’s had people write a little story about a romance they might have had, for example. It’s a fun thing. We generally have a full house.”
That is what’s expected for the upcoming Lovefest, to be held on Saturday, February 16 from 5 to 6 p.m. Lane’s parties are geared for people to indulge in sweet merrymaking. “My whole reason for starting this, years ago, was that I was either between relationships or in shaky ones. I thought of all the single people I knew, and wanted to give them something special for Valentine’s Day: something super-fun, with treats and laughter and Valentines for each other.”
The never-dull annual romp at the Woodstock Library grew out of an ensemble performance of writers sharing their “He Said/She Said” pieces. Every year, Lane creates some new plot to get people to connect. Raucous audience participation and laughter ensue.
Author of four award-winning YA novels and short fiction collections for adults, Lane also leads a variety of workshops and has written for Interview Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and many other publications. She eventually realized that much of her work involves love stories – all sorts of love stories.
“I have a heavy-duty love background. I write for The New York Times’ ‘Vows,’ and those are love stories. I used to ghostwrite personal ads for the LA Weekly and the Village Voice. This doesn’t mean I have a good love life,” she laughs. “But all the books I’ve published have been romantic books – not romance novels, but teen books with a lot of passion in them.”
An hourlong, nonstop visit to the land of love and friendship will include literary games (creating a group Mad Libs love story), a reading of more “love stuff” and writing love notes for anonymous people. “When I was a kid in Woodstock, I got my little brother to write these secret notes with me. We’d write love notes, notes of positive affirmation, like ‘You’re doing great; just keep going!’ And we would spread them all over town, slip them into chocolate -bar wrappers in the Grand Union and put them into library books – just dozens of notes everywhere.”
Lane has something new and even-more-daring planned for this Saturday. “The highlight of the evening will be when everyone is matched up for a Friend Date with someone else. The random draw should be pretty interesting. It’ll be like speed-dating for friendship: very nice and sweet. We need more of these things, a new kind of mixer for singles.
“I love involving the audience, and we often have a packed house. People know they’re going to get something fun and engaging. They just have to bring themselves; it’s free. Everybody will leave with some hope and joy.” And there will be prizes, such as Oliver Kita chocolate. And treats from Bread Alone. And flowers from Jarita’s Florist. And more hope and joy.
Dakota Lane’s Lovefest, Saturday, February 16, 5-6 p.m., free, Woodstock Public Library, 5 Library Lane, Woodstock; (845) 679-2213, www.woodstock.org.