For visitors and locals, The Moveable Feast combines love of books with love of food
Book enthusiasts who also enjoy a variety of delicious cuisine have an amazing opportunity while visiting South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.
For more than two decades, the Moveable Feast has offered the best of both worlds: local, regional, and national authors speaking about their books, and local restaurants providing the best of their tasty creations.
Linda Ketron, who started the Moveable Feast in January 1998 as a six-week course for CLASS (Community Learning About Special Subjects), said it started out small, but has evolved into something very special.
“In the beginning, the Moveable Feast featured a variety of local folks – historians like Lee Brockington (before she’d published any books), authors like Alberta Quattlebaum, musicians like Tom Fox, and Lowcountry characters like Oscar Vickd, who was an author, artist, storyteller and chef,” Ketron said.
“It was so popular, that CLASS offered a second series, then a third and so on. Around 2002, Tom Warner of Litchfield Books asked to partner with me, by contacting publishers who send their authors on tour,” Ketron said. “From that point, the feast was pretty much author-oriented, although to wrap up each season, I typically schedule a musical event.”
So, for almost 20 years, Litchfield Books, now owned by Olivia Meletes-Morris, has scheduled the authors, while Ketron has scheduled the venues and worked with the restaurants, provided publicity, booked the reservations, and emceed the events. She said what makes the Moveable Feast special is that there is nothing quite like it being done anywhere else.
“We’ve delivered great speakers, great books, great food, and great friendships weekly — not once a month or once a quarter which some other locations do, but every week,” Ketron said.
The literary feasts often include personal history, literary inspirations, trials of publishing, anecdotes from book promotion tours, and selected readings from past, present, or future works, Ketron said. Usually lasting about 50 minutes, with a little time for questions from the audience, the presentation is followed by book sales and signing while the wait staff serves lunch.
“For each feast, the venue chef prepares a unique menu, typically unavailable during the restaurant’s public hours,” Ketron said. “Many of the restaurants are only open for dinner but open at lunch for the Moveable Feast.”
The luncheons range in size from 30 to 300. In order that the featured guest can enjoy his or her lunch as much as the participants, the presentation precedes the meal. Individuals, couples, friends, book clubs and other groups are assigned table seating, and many lasting friendships have resulted, Ketron said. Each literary luncheon is followed by a book signing at Litchfield Books for those unable to participate in the meal.
Restaurants that have participated include Inlet Affairs Banquet Hall, Kimbel’s at Wachesaw Plantation, Pawleys Plantation, Litchfield Country Club, Café Piccolo and DeBordieu Beach Club, to name a few.
Among the novelists, poets, photographers, political commentators, columnists, historians, humorists and inspirational writers who have been featured are Tanya Ackerman, Eben Alexander, Mary Kay Andrews, Ace Atkins, Isaac Bailey, Tracy S. Bailey, David Baldacci, Kim Boykin, Susan Boyer, Rick Bragg, Lee Brockington, Wiley Cash, Diane Chamberlain, Harlan Coben, Christopher Dickey, Nathalie Dupree, Walter Edgar, Donna Everhart, Fannie Flagg, Jane Green, John Hart, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Patti Callahan Henry, Robert Hicks, Elin Hilderbrand, Beth Hoffman, Janet Hospital, Josephine Humphreys, Greg Isles, Sue Monk Kidd, Cassandra King, Mike Lassiter, Matt & Ted Lee, Bret Lott, Michael Malone, Charles Martin, Mac McAlister, Bren McClain, Susan Hoffer McMillan, Jon Meacham, Leila Meacham, Susan Meissner, Ernie Merchant, Mary Alice Monroe, Michael Morris, Bill Noel, Delia Owens, Nathaniel Philbrick, Jodi Picoult, Ron Rash, Kathy Reichs, Nancy Rhyne, Bobby Richardson, Dana Ridenour, Celia Rivenbark, Steve Roberts, Brewster Robertson, Ann B. Ross, Jeff Shaara, Anita Shreve, Nicole Seitz, Karin Slaughter, Lee Smith, A. J. Tata, Amor Towles, Wendy Wax, Karen White, Mary Whyte, and William Woodson; as well as literary stars who have since passed — Pat Conroy, Dorothea Benton Frank, Robert Jordan, Charles Joyner, Billie Letts, Doug Marlette, Louis Osteen, Cokie Roberts, Anne Rivers Siddons, Mickey Spillane and Susan Vreeland.
Upcoming Moveable Feasts will feature Mary Kay Andrews (The Newcomer); Patti Callahan Henry (Saving Savannah); Mary Alice Monroe (The Summer of Lost and Found); Nancy Naigle (The Shell Collector); T.I. Lowe (Under the Magnolias); Colleen Oakley (The Invisible Husband of Frick Island); Signe Pike (The Forgotten Kingdom); Susan Cushman (John and Mary Margaret); Jim Luken (Coastal SC Fish & Game: History, Culture & Conservation); Rita Shuler (The Lowcountry Murder of Gwendolyn Elaine Fogle: A Cold Case Solved); Palmer Smith (The Butterfly Bruises); Dianna Rostad (You Belong Here Now); Kristin Harmel (Forest of Vanishing Stars); and Bob, Pam & Ashley Gale (A Beachcomber’s Guide to Fossils).
Andrew Waters, an author who recently gave his second presentation at the April 23 Moveable Feast at Inlet Affairs Banquet Hall in Murrells Inlet, spoke about his second book detailing Revolutionary War history, “To the End of the World: Nathaniel Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan.” Waters says he enjoyed both events immensely. His first book is titled, “The Quaker and the Gamecock: Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter, and the Revolutionary War for the Soul of the South.”
“These events offer a really great, laid-back atmosphere that is much more fun than going to a bookstore and doing a reading,” Waters said. “The way the audience engages with the author seems to be more interactive than some of the other events I’ve done for my books.”
His presentation involved descriptions of “thrilling escapes,” “daring river crossings” and “cataclysmic war erupting in the Carolinas,” leading to a neck-and-neck chase to Virginia’s Dan River with the fate of the American South hanging in the balance. Though today the Race to the Dan is a little-known footnote of the American Revolution.
Attendees of the April 23 Moveable Feast said they enjoyed Waters’ presentation and learned something new about the Revolutionary War.
“He was very interesting, and he presented a part of the Revolutionary War that I didn’t even know about,” said Jennifer Carter, who has attended many Moveable Feasts over the past few years. “I love history, especially the Revolutionary and Civil wars.”
Randy and LoAnn Cogliser, a couple from Connecticut who now live in Surfside Beach, agreed.
“I know a lot about the Revolutionary War, but I didn’t know how much of it happened down here,” Randy Cogliser said. “It was very informative, but I’m sure the book goes into a lot more detail.”
Bill Hoyle, a volunteer tour guide at Hobcaw Barony, said he and his wife have attended many of the Moveable Feast events but he wanted to come to this event because he is very interested in the subject matter. He is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina but owns property in the Pawleys Island area.
“American History is my background, and the author was talking about the community where my father and his family lived, Guilford County, so that is what attracted me,” Hoyle said. “I learned a little bit about what happened around the time of the Guilford Court House Battle.”
Each of these literary enthusiasts said the Moveable Feast is a one-of-a-kind event.
“Linda Ketron has done a wonderful job bringing local, regional and national authors to the area,” Carter said. “Also, we get to experience these great restaurants that host the events, which are sometimes places you might not ever try otherwise.”
Loann Cogliser agreed.
“The Moveable Feast is very informative and I always learn something,” she said. “Even if the book is just a beach read book, there is always some nugget that I didn’t know before.”
The Moveable Feast is held at area restaurants throughout the year on Fridays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. On occasion, an author’s book tour schedule is accommodated with a mid-week Moveable Feast. Most of the feasts are $30, although in some instances the publishers require the purchase of the book with the feast ticket. For a schedule of Moveable Feast events and to make reservations, call 843.235.9600 or visit www.ClassAtPawleys.com.
— By Clayton Stairs, tourism manager, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce