‘Waltons’ actress to appear at book fest

Kaely Holloway

Actress, activist and author Mary McDonough will join more than 140 other authors at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival held on April 20.

Best known for her role as Erin on the TV series “The Waltons,” she will host “Body Branding: Getting Comfortable with the Skin You’re In,” a breakfast and workshop centered around body images and body issues.


The workshop, hosted at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center, stems from her personal work as a women’s health activist and life coach, and from her memoir “Lessons from the Mountain: What I learned from Erin Walton.”

In this memoir, McDonough chronicles her experiences growing up on a hit television show, and her struggles after the show ended after nine seasons. According to her, she began having many issues with self-esteem because of her fame.

“(I’ll be) sharing my experience with people, but will also have people share their own experience,” she said. “Even though I’m older, there’s still just as much pressure for women; there’s how we relate to ourselves as women and relate to our bodies.”

Now, however, she has channeled that experience into her passions, educating people in Washington about women’s health, teaching body image workshops and helping others through their challenging issues. McDonough is excited to be a part of the event and host her breakfast and workshop.

“I never want anyone to feel as frightened or alone as I did,” she said. “I lead these workshops and coach to work with people almost every day on self-esteem, and it’s just very rewarding.”

Kristie Lowry, organizer of the Book Fest, is glad to have McDonough back, and said that the author was warmly received at a previous book event she did in the past year.

“She did a presentation at the library when her book was released, with a large turnout for her presentation,” Lowry said. “Many asked to have her come back for the book festival, and the body image topic is for people of all ages. It gives everyone an opportunity to hear her speak on her issue.”

Though the official date of the main event is April 20, events will be hosted in the days leading up to the Book Festival. The annual Kentucky Writers Conference will be on April 18, which will have some of the Book Festival authors attending. April 19 will kick off the Book Festival with Children’s Day, where children’s (K-12) authors will come meet their readers and vice versa.

Lowry anticipates a high turnout for this year’s Book Festival, saying many of the hotels near the Knicely Center are already booked for the weekend.

“This is a great event for our area; people need to know Kentucky is a great place, with book lovers and people who love to read,” she said. “Sometimes people forget that; they think we’re all about basketball.”