William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897, on Jefferson Street in New Albany, Mississippi. The 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1955 and 1963 Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction, and the 1951 and 1955 National Book Awards are a few of his awards. New Albany recognizes the significance of being the birthplace of one of the most celebrated writers in American Literature generally and Southern Literature specifically and, as a result, Mayor Tim Kent will proclaim the month of September as William Faulkner Month.
New Albany and Ripley Main Street programs are joining forces to create a weekend that celebrates the rich history of two resident Fa(u)lkners. William Cuthbert Faulkner of New Albany, and his great-grandfather, Colonel William Clark Falkner of Ripley. And what weekend could be more appropriate than Tallahatchie Riverfest Weekend?!
Billye Jean Stroud, New Albany’s Main Street director, her assistant, Tracy Vainisi, and Elizabeth Reid Behm, Ripley Main Street director, met last spring with a small committee to brainstorm ideas for a partnership event.
“Tallahachie Riverfest was born out of a tribute to Faulkner and has somewhat gone by the wayside. Our goal was to create something special to revive that idea,” said Stroud’s assistant, Tracy Vainisi. “We will start the weekend by bringing in Mississippi Arts Commission artists Pat Carreras and Rebecca Jernigan for storytelling workshops at the New Albany and Ripley middle schools.”
Friday evening will showcase a storytelling competition and dinner at Ripley Sports Grill. Dinner, drinks, some good ole storytelling, and some Fa(u)lkner fun are in store for guests. Saturday morning’s featured events are a tour of historic downtown Ripley, a cemetery walk, light lunch, and a bourbon tasting at Silver Springs Wine & Spirits.
“Faulkner said ‘To understand the world you must first understand Mississippi,’” Stroud noted, “and to understand Faulkner, you have to understand this northeast corner of Mississippi. Join us for a fun filled weekend of southern storytelling and exploring Faulkner’s Mississippi.”
Behm added, “No one community owns Faulkner’s history outright. His footprint is shared by many in North Mississippi. What better way to acknowledge his influence in our community than by embracing one another’s stories, together, as one. That is what New Albany and Ripley are doing, embracing our stories.”
A Tale of Two Fa(u)lkners is made possible with financial assistance from the National Park Service, Mississippi Development Authority, MDA Tourism, the Mississippi State Legislature and the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance and is also partially funded by a grant through Visit Mississippi.
Barkley Travel buses have been reserved to transport folks from New Albany to Ripley and back for Friday and Saturday’s events. For information and tickets, go to newalbanymainstreet/events or contact Billye Jean Stroud at (662) 534-3438.