In 1978 Richard Fawcett, a school administrator from Connecticut, came to the Firehouse Restaurant in Prairie du Sac and held an open meeting to start the August Derleth Society. He had discovered a couple of Derleth’s books in a used-book store and was so impressed he wrote the Sauk City Chamber of Commerce and asked how to join the Derleth fan club. When he was told there was no such thing he was appalled and decided he would start one.
Fawcett realized that Derleth had made a major contribution to American literature and deserved to be recognized for his fine work. Fawcett was so excited about the quality of Derleth’s writing that he flew to Wisconsin to start the Society.
The Society worked hard over the next decade, managing to accomplish each of the goals that were set forth from the beginning and much more. In 1981, to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of Derleth’s death, the August Derleth Society and the Baraboo campus of the University of Wisconsin joined forces to put on the “Walden West Festival.” It was a big success with art displays, slide shows, photo exhibits and a bus tour of the area. A grave-side memorial service climaxed the weekend with speakers and music.
The Society started an August Derleth Prize for promising young writers at the University of Wisconsin which is awarded each year by the English Department. They are responsible for several more writing awards.
In 1988 the Society moved into its first home in the Sauk City Library and presently has a large display of Derleth memorabilia available to the public. Each October the public is invited to attend the Walden West Festival which is held in Sauk City . There is a lunch, speakers, displays, videos, etc. One year they had a Mystery Weekend instead that was a big success. Another year there was a dinner train ride.
The ADS is proud of the new “Augie’s Room” located in Leystra’s Restaurant in Sauk City . Tourists from all over the world have come to visit and to learn more about Augie.
Presidents of the ADS to date have been:
Wilfred E. Beaver (1977-78)
Gerald Heideman (1979-80)
Kay (Mulcahy) Price (1981-82)
Bill Dutch (1983-84)
Bill Dyke (1985-86)
Jim Kirchstein (1987-88)
Walden Derleth (1989-90)
Char Olson (1991-92)
Paul Smedegaard (1993-94)
Paul Meyer (1995-96)
James P. Roberts (1997-2000)
Jim Kirchstein (2001-02)
Dr. George Vanderburgh (2003-04)
Jim Schwarz (2005-06)
Perry Huntoon (2007-2011)
Ken Grant (2011-2012)
Tracy Heron (2012-present)