By Melinda Munson
About a year ago, Donna Griffard, Skagway Arts Council president, was musing over who she’d like to add to Skagway’s performance schedule.
“One day I was sitting here thinking, who do I want to see?” Griffard said. She went big. She reached out to best-selling author David Sedaris’ agent.
“Oddly, she emailed me back,” Griffard said. And thus began the Skagway booking of humorist David Sedaris, who just so happened, was planning a tour to Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Griffard knew the community, used to paying $10 per ticket, would have a hard time affording the usual rate of $100.
“I pleaded small town, hit really hard by the pandemic,” she said.
Sedaris’ team lowered the fees and with financial help from Skagway Library, Skaguay News Depot & Books and Visit Skagway, the remote town of 800 will meet the man with the distinctive voice, kind soul and biting sense of humor, who has sold over 12 million books.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Griffard said.
The rest of Skagway is pretty worked up.
Jen Thuss, along with her two dogs, was first in line at Skaguay Books to purchase her tickets.
“It’s David Sedaris! In Skagway!” she said.
Griffard, afraid that out of towners would snatch up the tickets, arranged for half to be sold in person at the bookstore with the other half available over the phone. With approximately 180 tickets available for the May 17 show, and one wheelchair spot reserved for Skagway’s oldest resident Bea Lingle, tickets were gone within days.
Due to the unique nature of the event, the protocol will be different than most Arts Council shows.
“Normally there is no etiquette in Skagway,” Griffard joked. “This is a different kind of thing where it’s a quiet, soft-spoken person.”
Doors to the F.O.E. #25 Eagles Hall will open at 6:15 p.m. Masks are required. No photography or filming is allowed inside the building, not even for the media. No food or drink is permitted. Ticket holders may only reserve their individual seat upon entrance. Books will be available for purchase before and after the presentation or patrons can bring their own copy for Sedaris to sign.
“He is a very gracious person who will stay until the very last book is signed,” Griffard said.
A bookplate for Sedaris’ newest work, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” which comes out May 31, can be signed and later placed in the fresh release.
Skaguay Books will also have a collection of Sedaris books for sale prior to the author’s arrival. The library will host a Choose Your Own Sedaris Book Club April 20 at 11:15 a.m.
As the Arts Council is busy preparing for Sedaris’ visit, they continue to offer noteworthy events.
April 15 is the 32nd Annual International Folk Festival. Musicians and storytellers of all ages are invited to participate, including group and solo performers.
Professional artists and “those who dabble” can showcase their talents starting April 15 at the 14th Annual Spring Show of Winter Work at AB Hall. The show will last two weekends to accommodate the Eagles Convention.
On May 7, Skagway Public School will host Sara Hagen, “Perk Up, Pianist,” who mixes classical piano with comedy.
Sedaris told talk show host Drew Barrymore that he’s been writing all pandemic, but is wary of the quality since he hasn’t been able to get feedback from the public.
“I don’t dare publish it because it could stink. The audience is such a good editor for me,” he said.
Skagway is confident he won’t stink and excited to be his sounding board.
“I’m giddy with excitement,” said resident Kari Rain.