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    “I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination.”—Hunter S. Thomas.

    And this quote will come to life beginning this weekend with the advent of GonzoFest 2014, a six-day festival celebrating the life and legacy of Louisville-born journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson.

    Thompson is known for popularizing “gonzo journalism”—a style of writing in which subjective, first-person claims are the norm—in his article “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”

    The article was not widely read at the time, but Thompson did garner attention from other journalists for its unusual style. In 1970, Bill Cardoso (editor of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine), wrote Thompson praising the "Kentucky Derby" piece in as a breakthrough: "This is it, this is pure Gonzo. If this is a start, keep rolling."

    It is considered the first use of the word Gonzo to describe Thompson's work. Thompson took to the word right away, and according to illustrator Ralph Steadman, said, "Okay, that's what I do. Gonzo.”

    Hence, the naming of the festival.

    The festival will play host to a myriad of events.

    The highlights of this year’s festival will include; a keynote speech given by Hunter’s wife Anita Thompson, panel discussions regarding Hunter’s influence on various aspects of the American culture, live readings of Hunter’s work, and the US premier of the new Ralph Steadman documentary “For No Good Reason.”

    The main event at this year’s GonzoFest is the unveiling of Hunter’s very own “Hunter’s Louisville” banner hung from a downtown location to be announced very soon.

    With this banner the impact Hunter had on this city and beyond will be displayed along the banners of other prominent Louisville personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Diane Sawyer, Colonel Sanders, and Pee Wee Reese to name a few.

    Music, art, poetry, and spoken word performances will take place each night by national, regional, and local performers at various local venues, including: Carmichael's Bookstore, The Green Building, Haymarket Whiskey Bar, The New Vintage Showcase, OPEN Gallery, St. Charles Exchange, and The Monkey Wrench—the official GonzoFest after-party headquarters.

    For more information and a full schedule of events which run from March 31 to April 5—visit the GonzoFest website and stay updated on Facebook and Twitter @Gonzofest.

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    Ashlie Danielle Stevens's picture

    About Ashlie Danielle Stevens

    I am a freelance food, arts and culture writer. Among other publications, my work has appeared at The Atlantic’s CityLab, Eater, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, Hyperallergic and National Geographic’s food blog, The Plate.

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