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Worth the drive: Mississippi's 'literary lawn party' set for Aug. 19 in Jackson

 

The third annual Mississippi Book Festival will take place on the Capitol grounds in Jackson from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19.

The third annual Mississippi Book Festival will take place on the Capitol grounds in Jackson from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Visiting authors, panel discussions, book signings, booksellers, live music, tours, food and more promise to make the third annual Mississippi Book Festival Saturday, Aug. 19 a book lover's playground. Held on the shaded lawns of the Mississippi State Capitol in downtown Jackson, the free "literary lawn party" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. directly connects fans with contemporary authors in a celebration of literature for all ages and interests. The first festival in 2015 drew 3,700 people; attendance exploded in 2016, to 6,200. 

 

More than 220 authors, including acclaimed prize winners like Richard Ford and Greg Iles will be on hand. The list is long, also boasting writers including Ellen Gilchrist, Richard Grant, Stanley Nelson, Curtis Wilkie and Julie Cantrell. They are among more than 150 panelists presenting 38 panel discussions open to the public in stately rooms at the Capitol, Galloway United Methodist Church Sanctuary and Fellowship Center, and The Foundery at Galloway. Among panelists are many familiar in the Golden Triangle, including Alison Buehler, William Dunlap, Michael Kardos, John Marszalek, Catherine Pierce, Sid Salter, Michael Farris Smith and Thomas J. Ward Jr.  

 

"It's a book lover's dream to meet authors face to face, and hear the stories behind the stories," festival executive director Holly Lange said. "It's a chance, too, to rub shoulders with fellow readers, pick up tips as well as books and get insights into Mississippi's greatest cultural legacy." 

 

 

 

Kids' fun, Capitol tours 

 

Even as panels take place, special morning activities target children and young readers. Streets surrounding the Capitol grounds transform into a marketplace for booksellers, with music, youth-centric fun and more than a dozen food trucks for refueling. 

 

Lemuria Books owner John Evans has been a guiding hand in festival planning. "Mississippi's literary contributions have enhanced our state and national culture. Our great writers are household names; many of their stories are our stories. But before great writers put pen to paper, they were first great readers, which is why we offer so many activities and panels dedicated to children's authors." 

 

C-SPAN broadcasts live from the Capitol's Old Supreme Court Room. Capitol tours showcase the building's Beaux Arts splendor. A special Library of Congress exhibit will be on view in the Rotunda.  

 

The entire event is handicapped accessible, with free parking on public streets and in parking garages. 

 

For more information and full schedule, visit msbookfestival.com.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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