NORTHSIDERS ARE gearing up for the third Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 19, at the Mississippi State Capitol. This year, director Holly Lange said she is hoping for 7,500 people to be in attendance.
The event costs $300,000 to organize and take place.
“We make no money,” Lange said. “We’re a nonprofit, and we break even every year. We just want and make enough money to cover expenses.”
The event takes more than a year to organize. Lange said she’s already started on the 2018 book festival, already looking for ways to raise money.
“This year, for example, the festival is August 19. We have materials already in the works to put in fresh pictures, updated graphics, funding material and stuff to invite writers to participate. We start the first of October.”
The festival will hold the same format as last year, with locations and schedules for panel presentations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Saturday. C-SPAN will air the panels live from the capitol building.
“It’s the same format as last year, but we added one more room at Galloway United Methodist Church. We’ll have seven (instead of six) locations for panel presentations… We’ve also increased our ability to seat guests by approximately 1,200.”
The festival will feature 175 writers, 15 more than last year. Each writer will hold a book signing in the book signing tent on the lawn shortly following their respective panel presentations.
Lange said she expects at least 7,500 people to attend the day-long festival this year.
“We had 6,400 last year and 3,200 the first year.”
There will be multiple exhibits, including the Library of Congress, the Mississippi Library Commission and C-SPAN exhibits in the rotunda of the capitol building.
A presentation of the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit will also be held in the rotunda. The 100th birthday celebration of Keats’ Snowy Day will feature original Keats documents on loan from the University of Southern Mississippi’s de Grummond Collection.
“Then there’s the family reading room in the capitol on the first floor off the rotunda,” Lange said. “The Mississippi Humanities Council is providing storytellers. It’s super interactive and casual.”
The storytellers are experts from across the state, and programs will run on the hour until 2 p.m.
The Mississippi Marathon Read will be presented by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Humanities Council.
Some of the festival’s official panelists will read short stories written by classic and emerging authors represented on the state’s new Mississippi Literary Map. A new reading begins every 30 minutes starting at 9:30 a.m.
“The Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, is coming,” Lang said. “She’s going to come in town early Friday (August 18) and talk to 1,500 Jackson State University students in conjunction with the Mississippi Library Commission.”
Hayden, along with the governor Phil Bryant, lieutenant governor Tate Reeves, and speaker of the house Philip Gunn, will kick off the festival by unveiling the newly-redesigned literary map.
For more information about this year’s Mississippi Book Festival, visit msbookfestival.com.