HippoCamp 2020 Update: Conference Cancellation and Next Steps

 We just sent an email to our registered attendees, and now we’re sharing this message more broadly: 

It is with a broken heart I share that we’ve decided it’s in the best interest to cancel HippoCamp 2020; our annual conference for creative nonfiction writers was scheduled for Aug. 14-16, 2020, in Lancaster, PA.

This decision has weighed on our minds for many months now. Early on in the pandemic, we held onto to hopes that as August neared, we’d be ready to safely and enthusiastically gather together as a community. For some, it would have been your annual trip to connect with your writing tribe over mashed potato martinis. For others, it might have been your first time tapping into this ever-growing community of craft, connection, and love of the written word.

Behind the Decision

Now, in mid-May, many counties and states are moving toward “reopening” in phases, but with so many of you spread across the country (and around the world), we feel there are still far too many uncertainties to comfortably host an event of this nature and size.

More importantly though, as we listen to our readers, attendees, and the overall literary community, we understand there’s a big difference between things being “officially open for business” and our individual comfort levels with the state of things. As we’ve seen in recent news, the economic drivers to reopen our communities don’t always align with the public health guidelines that will keep us all safe.

While many factors went into this decision, the biggest driver is the safety and protection of our fellow humans. I cannot imagine what HippoCamp would be like without the crowds of like-minded writers shaking hands, hugging, meeting for dinner, or stealing away to quiet corners for conversation. Your safety and health are our #1 priority, but I’m also dedicated to preserving the magic of this event – the ethereal vibe of togetherness that emerges when we share the best of ourselves in a communal space.

This is undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, and I thank you all for your patience, kindness, and understanding. I am incredibly grateful to our conference and editorial team for their guidance and thoughtful insight over the past few weeks.

Below, you’ll find information on next steps and next year’s event, including HippoCamp 2020 registration refund information.

On behalf of our magazine, books, and conference team, I wish you and yours all the best. Please stay in touch.

Best wishes,

Donna Talarico, magazine and conference founder

What’s Next:

Save the Date for HippoCamp 2021!

HippoCamp 2021 is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 13-15, 2021, at the Lancaster Marriott in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We hope you will join us — we’re delighted to share that our much-anticipated 2020 keynote speaker, Carmen Maria Machado, is also tentatively scheduled to join us.


Complete Your Refund or Rollover Request Form

If you are already paid and registered for HippoCamp 2020, we are happy to share that we are offering 100% refunds or the option to roll over your registration to 2021. Please complete this form by May 31, 2020.

Go to Request Form


What About This Year’s Sessions and Speakers?

There was excitement around this year’s scheduled sessions and workshops, and we’re offering all accepted speakers a spot at HippoCamp 2021; we’ll be communicating with these folks individually. We will plan to announce schedule updates and a possible limited call for proposals for 2021’s event this fall.


Let’s Still Get “Together!”: TBA Event, Aug. 15 and/or Aug. 16

We opted not to create an online version of HippoCamp; our conference was founded, intentionally, on the premise of being together, in person. The magic we’ve created cannot be duplicated online. We also considered that the literary world already offers plenty of quality online events, workshops, classes, and outlets for community-building: we do not want to replicate those digital-first experiences.

However, we will miss you this summer, so we’re in the process of developing a free, online event (or two) the same weekend of HippoCamp which is likely to include some readings and a few mini-talks. Details are forthcoming.


  • If you are not on our mailing list yet, please sign up here to be sure you’re notified about this and future events.


One again, thank you to everyone for their support through these times. This was cross-posted from our  HippoCamp 2020 conference website.

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