The largest literary lawn in the state drew in massive numbers this weekend for the ninth annual Mississippi Book Festival, with over 14,000 people said to have been reached over the three-day celebration.
According to festival officials, more than 6,700 individuals attended the festival at the state capitol grounds on Saturday alone, with hundreds of readers attending the 47 panel sessions spread out over the entire day.
This year’s festival was one for the books! Thank you to the thousands of you who came out and celebrated…and sweated with us for our ninth annual festival. There’s no argument – the Mississippi Book Festival is the hottest festival in the country! pic.twitter.com/FN1QOAltjY
— MS Book Festival (@msbookfest) August 21, 2023
Headliners for Saturday’s event included world-renowned writers Lois Lowry, Jeannette Walls, Michael Farris Smith, Richard Russo, Richard Ford, Jeff Shaara, Simon Winchester, and James McBride.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was also featured as a headlining author as he promoted his new autobiography, So Help Me God.
In all, almost 170 official panelists met with festivalgoers throughout the entire event, leading to the donation of approximately 2,500 books.
“More than 260 authors participated in Saturday’s festival, including 169 on 47 official panels and another 95 authors meeting the public in Author’s Alley,” Festival Executive Director Ellen Daniels explained. “Many of the panels were standing room only and our nine booksellers sold thousands of books.”
On Friday, Jason Reynolds, one of the festival’s visiting Middle-Grade authors, spoke to more than 7,000 students during his in-person presentation in Thalia Mara Hall.
Reynolds’ presentation was also live-streamed to nearly 300 classrooms all over the state, with each student being given a free copy of his latest piece, Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-man Novel, at the end of the in-person seminar.
“There is nothing quite like a student having a chance to hear directly from a nationally recognized author, to learn what it’s like to write a book and to create stories and characters,” Daniels stated. “It has never been more important to promote books and the stories within them, and the Book Festival does a wonderful job celebrating Mississippi’s love of books and writers. Our great writers are household names and many of their stories are our stories.”
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