Miss. region to mark Faulkner's birthday

NEW ALBANY, Miss. -- The second combined Tallahatchie Riverfest and William Faulkner Birthday Celebration will be held on the grounds of the County Courthouse here Sept. 25 and 26.

William Faulkner The first Tallahatchie Riverfest took place in 1993, and the celebration honoring New Albany's favorite son originated last year on the occasion of the Nobel Prize-winning author's 100th birthday. Plans are to continue linking the birthday celebration with the annual festival, according to Glenn Duckworth, executive director of the Union County Development Association, sponsor of the event.

Among the two-day riverfest activities are a 5K run, art exhibits, an arts and crafts show and an evening dinner. Although this year's Faulknerfest will not rival last year's centennial celebration, planners promise the event still will have a heavy concentration of Faulknerania.

Speakers will include Robert Hamblin, director of the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University, and Lisa C. Hickman, a professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. Also on the agenda is "Viewing Faulkner's South," a collection of slides that have been shown to audiences at New York University, Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts.

Faulkner's literary town of Jefferson is said to resemble New Albany as well as the nearby towns of Oxford, Ripley and Holly Springs. New Albany and Holly Springs were included on the tour agenda for the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference held at the University of Mississippi in Oxford July 26 to 31.

Although Faulkner was born here, one could say it was the railroad that brought him to New Albany. One also could say he rode out on a rail. His great-grandfather had built the railroad that ran from Jackson, Tenn., to the Mississippi towns of Ripley, New Albany and Pontotec. According to Duckworth, Old Colonel Faulkner was killed in a gunfight on the square in the late 1880s or early 1890s. Control of the railroad fell to the author's grandfather, who subsequently sent his son, Murry, to run the operation in New Albany.

William Faulkner was born here to Maude and Murry Faulkner in 1897. Murry Faulkner was shot and seriously wounded in a New Albany drug store following an argument with his druggist and neighbor, Will Bratton, Duckworth said. Maude insisted that the family move to Ripley, where they lived a couple of years before settling in Oxford, he said. Faulkner was raised in Oxford, and it was there, at his home in Rowan Oak, where he wrote his finest works.

Admission to the Tallahatchie Riverfest and Faulkner Birthday Celebration is free, but there is a $12 entry fee for the run.

Union County Development Association, Phone: (601) 534-4354

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