Mississippi Book Festival canceled because of COVID concerns

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — This month’s Mississippi Book Festival has been canceled amid concerns of contagion from the latest surge in coronavirus infections.

“Authors were very uncomfortable traveling, and we didn’t want to take any chances,” the festival’s executive director, Holly Lange, said Wednesday. “We did not want to be a super-spreader event and put any more stress on the hospital system.”

The free event was to have been held on Aug. 21 inside and outside the state Capitol and at nearby Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson, with than 180 authors signed up to speak during 48 panel discussions.

Scheduled speakers included novelists Kiese Laymon and Ellen Gilchrist; historian Lonnie G. Bunch, who is secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and former Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson, who is now a history professor at Tulane University. Among the topics this year were panels on civil rights, the Gulf South, Afrofuturism, cooking and young adult fiction.

Lange said some author panels will have online presentations instead. The 2020 festival was also canceled because of the pandemic, but past festivals have attracted thousands of people.

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