Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford is among 220 authors participating in Saturday’s Mississippi Book Festival. Image: Greta Rybus/NPR

Special to Find It In Fondren®

The countdown is on: the 2017 Mississippi Book Festival opens the pages on its third annual book and book lovers’ celebration — a “Literary Lawn Party” — at the State Capitol complex on Saturday.

More than 220 authors, including a host of such acclaimed prize winners as Richard Ford and Greg Iles, will be on hand Saturday, August 19. That includes 155 participating on 38 official panels and another 65 authors meeting the public in Author’s Alley. Festival admission is free, plus there’s ample free parking in two garages adjacent to the Capitol Complex.

“It’s a book lover’s dream to meet authors face to face, and hear the stories behind the stories,” festival executive director Holly Lange said. “It’s a chance, too, to rub shoulders with fellow readers, pick up tips as well as books and get insights into Mississippi’s greatest cultural legacy.”

The festival kicks off at 9 a.m. with special guest, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, and author panels continue through 5 p.m. for a full day of book-centric indulgence.

Special morning activities target children and young readers. Author signings, booksellers and literary exhibits set up throughout the Capitol grounds provide readers direct access to writers, great new reads and information. More than a dozen food trucks will be on hand for refueling.

Authors on official panels will discuss their works, covering topics such as Mississippi’s musical heritage, Southern fiction, short stories, history and biography, cooking, photography, mystery, the Mississippi Encyclopedia, children’s literature, poetry, art in Mississippi, Larry Brown and the modern novel, Eudora Welty’s legacy, and middle-grade readers. In addition to Ford and Iles, participating authors include Angie Thomas, Ron Rash, Vivian Howard, Linda Williams Jackson, Mark Bowden, Jack Spencer, Bill Ferris, Mark Richard, Curtis Wilkie, Katy Simpson Smith, Otto Penzler, Ellen Gilchrist, Candace Fleming, Jessica Harris, Jami Attenberg, and John T. Edge.

Lemuria Books owner John Evans has been a guiding hand in festival planning. “Mississippi’s literary contributions have enhanced our state and national culture. Our great writers are household names; many of their stories are our stories. But, before great writers put pen to paper, they were first great readers, which is why we offer so many activities and panels dedicated to children’s authors.”

Find a full listing of panels and authors on the website msbookfestival.com.