NEW ALBANY – Members of the New Albany Garden Club have been busy in the William Faulkner Literary Garden, getting it spruced up for their upcoming fundraiser.

"An Evening of Jazz in the Faulkner Garden" is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. The garden is located behind the Union County Heritage Museum at 114 Cleveland St. in New Albany. Tickets are $50 each and available from garden club members, at the museum, and at the New Albany Main Street Office.

Music will be provided by a jazz ensemble, Eric Holloway and Friends from Smithville, and Tallahatchie Gourmet will cater the food.

"We chose jazz as the theme this year because not a lot of people know about the Jazz Age artwork that Faulkner drew for the newspaper at Ole Miss and for the annual," said Elizabeth Coombs, who is the co-chairman of the event, along with Retta Hardy.

More than a dozen of the Nobel-prize-winning novelist's little-known drawings will be on display in the museum for a one-night exhibit. Participants will also be able to view a museum exhibit featuring the works of famed Mississippi artist William Dunlap.

"This is our third fundraiser for the garden," said Lynn Madden, who is in charge of publicity for the event. "We do it every other year, and it's always an event in the garden with food and music."

Coombs said the event draws an assortment of people.

"We get a lot of locals, as well as museum and garden supporters, but it's open to anyone who wants a ticket," she said. "People are welcome to come dressed in the 1920s flapper style."

Madden said the past two events have each drawn about 300 participants.

"People have been really supportive," she said. "It's like they crave these things. Tickets sell out overnight."

Proceeds will go toward the ongoing maintenance of the garden, such as supplies, utensils and new plants.

GARDEN'S HISTORY

William Faulkner's birth site, now a short stay/meeting venue, is one block from the museum. In 2005, members of the New Albany Garden Club and the Union County Heritage Museum supporters came up with the idea of building a garden behind the museum to honor the late writer.

Using a master's thesis from scholar Angie Quinn on Faulkner's use of landscape in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, and with a sizable grant, the seeds were planted for the William Faulkner Literary Garden.

Garden plantings include perennials, annuals, vines, bulbs and trees. Plants are identified by signage throughout the garden.

"Each sign looks like an open book," Madden said. "One side tells the flower in bloom and its horticultural information, and the other side tells the Faulkner book it's from and the quote about the flower."

The L-shaped garden also contains sculptures by Chester Thayer called Agri Birds, depicting Faulkner's agrarian society, and John Steele Davis' Lena Grove, a character from the novel "Light in August." There's also a bottle tree with colorful Faulkner-themed etched bottles by artist Haley Yurkow.

Benches throughout the garden have been donated by the Historic Northside Garden Club and the Union County Master Gardeners, as well as local families.

"We've recently added Edison lighting throughout the garden," Coombs said. "That should give a magical ambience to the night."

The evening's festivities fall just before the annual Tallahatchie RiverFest begins.

"Thursday is the 'Evening of Jazz,' Friday is the William Faulkner Literary Competition awards luncheon, and Saturday is the RiverFest and Rubber Duck Regatta," Madden said. "Tallahatchie RiverFest tries to coincide with Faulkner's birthday, Sept. 25, and we try to coincide with Tallahatchie RiverFest."

For more information about "An Evening with Jazz," contact (662) 534-3438.

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