The Southern Literary Festival is an organization of southern colleges and schools founded in 1937 to promote southern literature.
Each year a different school hosts the festival, an undergraduate writing conference that offers participants workshops, readings, and master classes in a wide variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, playwriting, and non-fiction.
Ann Patchett is a celebrated author, a devoted reader and a champion of literary culture. She has written seven books and is a frequent contributor to many publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal. She has served on the board of the Nashville Public Library Foundation and in 2011, when the last of Nashville's bookstores had...
Each year one of the highlights of the Southern Literary Festival is the undergraduate writing contest, in which students from member schools compete in five genres: short story, poetry, formal essay, creative non-fiction, and one-act play.
Winning submissions are published in the SLF anthology, and first, second and third place winners read their work live at the Festival.
“My experience at the 2013 Southern Literary Festival inspired a poem, "Gramma's Kitchen," that went on to win the Collage Fall 2014 Creative Expression Award. SLF not only deepened my relationship with my own creative work, I found inspiration in the people I met in the workshops, at open mic night, and at the multitude of other events.”StarShield Lortie
“To find community as a writer is to find yourself a Home. I found a home for my stories in every person I met at SLF, and their work made homes out of me too.”C . Jones
“Attending the Southern Literary Festival was a great experience; with two days of informative workshops and interesting speakers, I learned a lot. I attended workshops on various interesting subjects from publishing to poetry, and had the opportunity to meet keynote speaker, Frances Mayes; it was a memorable event and I am excited for SLF 2016.”Heather Hickox
“Attending the Southern Literary Festival was one of the most galvanizing benchmarks in my early writing career. I'm proud to see my alma mater hosting an event that has proven so critical to student success.”Christopher Merchant
“It’s difficult not to feel like something important is happening, in your work and in the work of those around you. A tremendous sense of community permeated my time at SLF. Makes you feel like someone's got your back. Many of those same people, whom I got to know at the festival, still have my back, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.”Lukas Tallent
Each year’s Festival includes an undergraduate writing contest in which students from member schools compete in several genres. Winners read their work at the Festival and are published in the SLF anthology.
This year’s Festival will be held March 30th-April 1st at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith in Fort Smith, Arkansas. We hope you will join us!
The Southern Literary Festival was founded in 1937 at Blue Mountain college by a committee of representatives from ten Southern colleges, including Belhaven, Millsaps, and the University of Mississippi. The festival was designed to create an opportunity for local undergraduate writers to develop their craft while simultaneously providing them with concentrated exposure to successful Southern authors.
The first festival was held in April of 1937 at Blue Mountain College where Robert Penn Warren — one of the founding members — and Margaret Flint were keynote speakers, and it has been held annually since. The festival temporarily suspended meetings from 1942-1946 when wartime gas rations prevented the travel necessary to convene, but in the 1950s and 1960s the festival enjoyed a period of significant growth. Among those authors associated with the festival during this time were such literary elite as Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote, Katherine Anne Porter, John Gould Fletcher, and Flannery O’ Connor, as well Robert Penn Warren, who maintained intimate involvement with the festival until his health began to decline.
The early decades of the festival celebrated the traditionally Southern, but as of late, it has expanded to include a broader, more diverse portrait of what it means to hail from the American South, and what it means to write from a Southern perspective. In recent years, nationally recognized authors, including Frances Mayes and Natasha Trethewey, have addressed the assembly, and in the spring of 2016, Middle Tennessee State University will host the festival for the first time.
Ann Patchett is a celebrated author, a devoted reader and a champion of literary culture. She has written seven books and is a frequent contributor to many publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal. She has served on the board of the Nashville Public Library Foundation and in 2011, when the last of Nashville's bookstores had been shuttered; Ann declared "I have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore." And so, in November of that year she opened Parnassus Books, a new refuge for the written word in the old "Athens of the South."
In 2012 TIME named Ann one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for her efforts on behalf of the literary community. Writing of her friend on the occasion of that event, novelist Elizabeth Gilbert described Ann as "a woman of wisdom, determination, generosity and courage."
Ann published her first story in The Paris Review while still a student at Sarah Lawrence College. Bel Canto, her fourth novel, was published in 2001 and was awarded the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. The world-renowned Lyric Opera Company of Chicago has commissioned a production based on that novel that will premiere in 2015. Her most recent novel State of Wonderwas published in 2011. The Washington Post called that book "the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer" and Library Journal described it as "superbly rendered." Ann is also the author of two works of nonfiction including Truth & Beauty, which won the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction in 2004.
There's a pink brick home in Nashville, Tennessee with a wide porch surrounded by old trees. It's Ann Patchett's favorite place and it's where she lives with her husband Karl and lots of books.
An Afternoon / Evening with Ann Patchett… A celebrated writer and the owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, Ann Patchett is a champion of literary culture. In this presentation hear from the author who is described as "a woman of wisdom, determination, generosity and courage" by her friend and novelist Elizabeth Gilbert.
In the South, there are certain figures that take on a mythological air. They’re the folks that only have one name below the Mason-Dixon—the Dollys, the Garths, the Rebas of the world. They feel like family even though you’ve never met them; they make you rethink your patch of ground by telling you about theirs; they conjure some old storm inside you that you didn’t even know was brewing.
Nashville speaker-songwriter Minton Sparks follows in the tradition of these legends—but on her own terms.
Though her spoken word/honky-tonk hybrid performances elicit whoops, hollers, and general hell-raising from beer-swilling good ole boys and latte-sipping intellectuals alike; and though she’s been dubbed everything from the lovechild of Flannery O’Connor and Hank Williams to a backwoods Lucinda Williams, no one knows exactly what or who Minton Sparks really is.
On the one hand, she’s a decorated poet, playwright, and author that’s been invited to prestigious events like the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and Berry College’s Southern Women Writer’s Conference (alongside Maya Angelou and Kaye Gibbons). On the other hand, she’s a blue-collar troubadour that’s performed in the American Songbook Series at the Lincoln Center, appeared at the venerable Old Towne School of Folk Music, and served as teller-in-residence at the Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival.
Whatever she is and whatever she’s doing, it’s working: Minton’s been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC’s Bob Harris Show, and WoodSong’s Old-Time Radio. She’s also shared the stage with country and folk heavyweights like Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Nanci Griffith, and Punch Brothers.
A Tennessee native, former social worker, divinity school dropout, first-ever Spoken Word Award recipient at the Conference on Southern Literature, and founder of The Nashville Writing and Performance Institute, Minton established herself as Nashville’s first non-singing country singer with the release of 2001’s Middlin’ Sisters, where she had a chance to collaborate with the legendary Waylon Jennings.
Since then, she’s released two studio follow-ups—This Dress (2003), featuring a blues cut with Keb’ Mo. and Sin Sick (2005), where the Punch Brother’s Chris Thile haunted her words with his otherworldly mandolin—and a live record cut at Nashville’s Vahalla of bluegrass, The Station Inn.
On her first three efforts, Minton tells the hilarious, humble, and heartbreaking tales of characters like Giddy Up Gibson and Wicked Widow Pots over earnest finger-picking and gospel piano. They’re vienna sausage vignettes that not only speak to Minton’s storytelling, but to her authenticity as a true southerner as well. As John Prine aptly put it, “Minton Sparks is a great storyteller—humanity with humidity, all told humorously with humility.”
On her fifth release, Gold Digger, Minton breaks new (swampy) ground without losing an ounce of the hands-on-hip attitude of her earlier releases—and she’s enlisted legendary talent to help.
Side A sees longtime Minton bandleader and guitarist John Jackson—a seasoned road warrior who has played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Shelby Lynne, and Tom Jones—channeling Muddy Waters and John Fogerty instead of his usual Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins. If Jackson was picking and grinning on Minton’s previous releases, he’s grunting and moaning on Gold Digger. When paired with Minton, he completes the duo’s country-fried Mick and-Keith dynamic.
Gold Digger’s first half might take you to the Delta, but Side B takes you on an airboat up to Nola. Guitarist Joe McMahan’s soulful Dixieland licks are accompanied by David Jaques (upright bass), and Shad Cobb (fiddle and banjo), making for what Nashville Scene and Rolling Stone Country contributor Jewly Hight describes as a “sinewy swing.”
Combine both halves of Gold Digger with production from the late, great Brian Harrison and stories about silicon-enhanced sugar-daddy hunters, and you’ve got a regular rural based opus. Just consider it another chapter in the already vibrant mythology of Minton Sparks.
Claudia Barnett grew up in the Bronx and lives in the woods of Tennessee. She has served as resident playwright at Stage Left Theatre and Tennessee Repertory Theatre and has developed four scripts with Venus Theatre, where Witches Vanish will premiere in August 2015 as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Her plays have been included in the Great Plains Theatre Conference, the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival, the MultiStages New Works Finalist Festival, Stage Left Theatre’s LeapFest, and the Women’s Work Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
She teaches playwriting at Middle Tennessee State University and is the author of I Love You Terribly: Six Plays (2012) and No. 731 Degraw-street, Brooklyn, or Emily Dickinson’s Sister: A Play in Two Acts (2015, forthcoming), both published by Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Nathan Bell’s literary roots run deep.
Raised in Iowa City, the cradle of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the son of a nationally known poet, he has long been recognized by reviewers, listeners, and his peers as one of songwriting’s most unique and articulate lyricists.
Bell’s career developed in the mid-80s as part of the acoustic duo Bell and Shore, working out of Iowa City as a key member of a songwriting driven roots music scene that included Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, and Dave Moore, world-famous Fiddler Al Murphy and banjo legend Bob Black.
Known for his straightforward yet poetic lyrics, and expert musicianship, His stories are of everyman, sung with honesty and empathy. Though his subjects are often dark and troubled, Bell never leaves the listener without, as Cohen wrote, ‘the crack, where the light comes through.’
A master guitarist, Bell often performs solo, allowing his instrument to turn his poetry to song, his metaphors to melody. Acoustic Guitar Magazine described his music as “rock-tinged country-folk,” his voice as “rustic, coupling the grain of Levon Helm with the gruff troubadour lilt of Kris Kristofferson.” And his playing, “encompassing delicate rhythms, mountain drones, and surging melodic fills. His fingerpicking marries thumb blues to his guitar’s mimicry of frailing banjo…”
Bell’s songs are regularly recorded and featured on other writer’s albums and just recently, his song “American Crow” was recorded by Missy Raines and the New Hip.
His latest two records, Black Crow Blue and Blood Like a River, have topped Folk/Roots charts in the U.S. and in Europe. He will be releasing a new album, 13 songs about working in America, I Don’t Do This For Love, I Do This For Love, fall of 2015.
Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he founded and for more than 20 years edited the journal Poems & Plays. His most recent books are a ninth collection of poetry, Country of Ghost (Red Hen), and the cookbook-memoir The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire (Stephen F. Austin), both in 2015. He has published 900 poems in journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry and The Bedford Introduction to Literature. During June of 2014 and 2015 he was in residence at the Centre d’Art i Natura in Spain. He earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State.
Kevin A Brown teaches writing and literature at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where, among other things, he assists with The Writers Corps, a creative writing group composed of U.S. military veterans. His novel, The Running Horse of Santa Teresa, was released in 2009 and his work has appeared in the Oxford American, the anthologies Maple Leaf Rag IV and Literary Austin, as well as various journals.
Kevin is currently working on several non-fiction projects including a book about his winter living near the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, a book that explores the roots of alternative country music, and a series of essays that cover topics ranging from bullfighting to life in Nashville, Tennessee.
Matthew Leavitt Brown is a writer, activist, editor and educator. His work has been published by literary presses and journals across the United States. He has been a featured lecturer and performs readings in community arts forums and at academic conferences throughout North America and Europe. He currently teaches writing and literature at Middle Tennessee State University and resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dana Chamblee Carpenter’s debut novel, BOHEMIAN GOSPEL, won Killer Nashville’s 2014 Claymore Award and has been praised as “A grand, thought-provoking adventure in sorrow, joy and magic,” by J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of What Lies Behind. Mark Richard, author of The Ice at the Bottom of the World says, “Like a rushing river, BOHEMIAN GOSPEL, flows bright, dappled with a patina of legend, and has a current that runs deep and wonderfully dark. The reader will be swept along in this bold debut.”
Carpenter’s award-winning short fiction will also be featured in a forthcoming anthology and has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Jersey Devil Press, and Maypop.
She currently teaches creative writing and American Literature at a university in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her husband and two children, who are desperately trying to turn the house into a model of Luna Lovegood’s eccentric home with glass beads and bells and little figures nestled into every nook and cranny. Hopefully there aren’t any exploding dragon horns.
Karen Alea has her MFA from Bennington College and is an alumna of Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her short stories have been published in various magazines including Eureka, Stickman Review, Riverwalk Journal and the anthology, Catch Fire in the Treetops. Her short story “The Next Guy” won The Nashville Scene fiction contest judged by Ann Patchett, which led to a guest column in the publication. She has written non-fiction for Images Magazine, Jacksonville Magazine, Catholic Journal and, somehow, Auto Restorer. She freelances and teaches English as an adjunct at Middle Tennessee State University where she is also the director of MTSU Write–a non-degree, creative writing program. More information about MTSU Write here.
A Tennessee native, McAdoo Greer is a published playwright whose works have been performed in states both above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Her plays include The First Human Impalement Act in These Here Parts (Dramatic Publishing Company), Titty Bars (Tennessee Repertory Theatre Ingram New Works Festival), Stepdaughters of the Confederacy (West Kentucky Playwrights Festival), and Lashes (Bookwriters/Songwriters Exchange Dramatists Guild National Conference). An alumna of the Groundlings, McAdoo credits them with teaching her that she can indeed write her own lines and act at the same time. She has been seen and heard in national commercials ranging from Air Wick to Xerox, and most recently appeared on the southern stage in Night of the Iguana at the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. She is also the recipient of an outstanding contribution award from the Screen Actors Guild for her work as coordinator of the SAG Conservatory of the American Film Institute.
An academic as well as a playwright, McAdoo is currently a faculty member at Murray State University. She has presented at national conferences and her essay and nonfiction writing has recently appeared in The Dramatist - The Journal of the Dramatists Guild of America as part of their 2015 Season in Review. In this world of hyphenates, McAdoo considers herself a soybean farmer-playwright.
Named #2 in the most recent listing of the top 100 Reasons to Love Nashville by Nashville Lifestyles magazine, Robert Hicks was described as Nashville’s “Master of Ceremonies.” They went on to say that “being a New York Times best-selling author should be enough – but not for Robert Hicks, award-winning author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country. His passion for words is equaled by one for preservation, saving the history-steeped places associated with the Battle of Franklin. Writer, speaker, leader, world-traveler, preservationist – one person really can make a difference.”
Born in South Florida, he moved to Williamson County, Tennessee in 1974 and lives near the Bingham Community at ‘Labor in Vain,’ his log cabin.
In ‘Curator of Vibe’ for the BB King’s Blues Clubs in Memphis, Nashville and Orlando.
A lifelong collector, Hicks was the first Tennessean to be listed among Arts & Antiques’ Top 100 Collectors in America – his collection focuses on Outsider Art and Southern Material Culture. He served as curator on the exhibition, Art of Tennessee, at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.
He is founding chairman emeritus of Franklin’s Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space in the fight to secure and preserve the historic battlefield in Williamson County.
In December 2005, the Nashville Tennessean named him ‘Tennessean of the Year’ for the impact THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH has had on Tennessee, heritage tourism and preservation.
In the October 2014, Robert introduced his Battlefield Bourbon, a very small batch, Tennessee-made, aged and hand-bottled Tennessee bourbon whiskey. With this The Nashville Tennessean added “Whiskey Preservationist” to his list of titles.
MEENA KHALILI received both her BFA in Illustration in 2004 and her MFA in Visual Communication, Graphic Design in 2010 from Virginia Commonwealth University, School of the Arts.
In 2015 she moved her dog and her design and illustration studio to Nashville, Tennessee from Richmond, Virginia. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University. Her artwork has been featured in exhibitions and periodicals in the US and internationally. She has conducted workshops in printmaking and design in Doha, Qatar and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she has also been faculty. Ms. Khalili has had the honor to speak about her work at several universities including UNC Greensboro, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Hawaii.
In 2013 her artist book Body of Evidence was included in the permanent collection at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries Special Collections & Archives. Body of Evidence has toured internationally and in 2015 was shown in Indonesia and Australia. In 2011 her work for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity won the AIGA GRADE award for excellence in exhibition design and in 2010 Applied Arts Magazine awarded her letterpress illustrations their Illustration Award. She has served on the Board of Directors for AIGA Richmond, is a member of AIGA, CAA, UCDA, SECAC and MACAA.
Jeff Hardin is the author of Fall Sanctuary (2004 Nicholas Roerich Prize), Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press Book Award), and Restoring the Narrative (Donald Justice Prize).
His fourth collection, Small Revolution, is forthcoming. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, North American Review, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. He teaches at Columbia State Community College.
Visit his website at
D. T. Lumpkin earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the Ohio State University. His prose has appeared in The Mid-American Review, The Oxford American, and The Sun. Recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence grant and the AWP Intro Journals Award, he worked as co-facilitator of the creative writing workshop on the death row unit at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. He teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.
A member of the faculty since 1997, Dr. Mackin earned the M.A. at Austin Peay State University and his D.A. at MTSU. He teaches courses in general studies English, contemporary Southern literature, and since Spring 2009, a Special Topics in Writing course (English 4670) titled the Tennessee Literary Project (TLP). Students research the lives of Tennessee writers, compose biographies and bibliographies, prepare photo essays, review books, and conduct interviews with the state's authors. The student work is available online at www.mtsu.edu/tnlitproj. Students in the 2015 course just completed biographies, copy editing, and choosing primary source material for the TLP’s first print anthology: Tanasi: A Gathering of Tennessee Writers.
He is the author of George Scarbrough: Appalachian Poet (McFarland 2011). A professional journalist since 1982, he is still editor of the Buffalo River Review, a weekly newspaper in Linden, Tennessee. In that capacity he is a five time recipient of the Meeman Foundation/UT Press Institute Award for editorial writing, a two time recipient of the Tennessee School Board Association award for education writing, and received a National Newspaper Association award for editorials.
Dr. Mackin serves on the Board of Directors for Humanities Tennessee, and on the editorial board of Chapter 16 (www.chapter16.org). He and his wife, Lynda, live in Linden; they have three adult children, Dylan, Hadley, and Joey.
A recipient of fellowships to the Cave Canem Foundation, the Prague Summer Writing Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center Walker Fellowship and the Vermont Studio Center, Moon's work has been featured widely, including Harvard Review, jubilat, Poem-A-Day for the Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, Villanelles and Gathering Ground. A Pushcart Prize winner, she was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Audre Lorde Award from the Publishing Triangle.
Featured nationally in conferences and venues that include the Library of Congress, she has been selected as a New American Poet presented by the Poetry Society of America. Moon is the author of She Has a Name (Four Way Books) and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.
After working as a freelance writer and children’s writer for many years, Candie Moonshower entered academia and was immediately motivated to put her skills to use in another important venue. She teaches freshman and sophomore-level English courses and enjoys helping students get over their fear—and sometimes hatred—of writing.
As an undergraduate at MTSU, Moonshower received The Richard C. and Virginia Peck Award, a Paul Martin Scholarship, and was named Honors Senior of the Year. In 2004, she sold her Master’s thesis, a novel for young people entitled The Legend of Zoey, to Random House. The Legend of Zoey, published in 2006, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators “Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award” and was named a Volunteer State Book Award nominee. Moonshower has since published a biography for the school library market and continues to work on novels for children, young adults and adults.
In her freelance career, Moonshower has accumulated 200+ publication credits, and she continues to write for regional publications.
Kathleen O’Connell was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. After completing graduate studies, she traveled and began working a series of adjunct teaching and art-related jobs (New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon). In 2009, she moved to Peru and established the Taller Libros Artísticos, teaching bookbinding classes. In 2012, she relocated to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to become an Assistant Professor of Book Arts and Letterpress at Middle Tennessee State University. Her artwork is included in the collections of the Kohler Art Library, University of Denver Special Collections, University of Hawaii–Hilo, Vanderbilt University Library and Target Corporation.
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Through the literary and performing arts, Southern Word offers creative solutions for youth to build literacy and presentation skills, reconnect to their education and to their lives, and act as leaders in the improvement of their communities. We are absolutely committed to providing youth, especially in underserved communities, with as many opportunities as possible to develop and publicly present their voices both live and in print, video, audio, and digital media.
Lynda Bouchard is Founder of Booking Authors Ink, a boutique marketing firm dedicated to Southern authors.
At the core it's Lynda's sense of humor and nimble 'outside of the book' thinking that drives her best work. She believes that book marketing is all about collaborative story-telling. Her client list includes award-winning authors Nicholas Sparks, Ken Burger, Dorothea Benton Frank and Cassandra King Conroy. She collaborates with New York publishing houses on Southern publicity campaigns and serves as an 'author concierge' for authors traveling throughout the South.
She shares advice about publicity and marketing for writers on Where Writers Win blog, and has been a featured speaker for the SC Writers Workshop and panel moderator at the South Carolina Book Festival.
Lynda holds a Masters Degree in Public Relations from Boston University and did post graduate work in Literature at Oxford University in England.
When she isn't busy thinking of creative ways to pitch Anderson Cooper, Lynda spends time volunteering for Literacy Councils in North and South Carolina. She also supports her local chapter of Donate Life – helping create awareness for the importance of organ donation.
Booking Authors Ink is recommended by 4 out of 5 authors that recommend things!
Work in progress: Trying to figure out her new iPhone.
Rick Reichman graduated MFA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. He has optioned a screenplay, been a Coverage Editor, taught at various conferences and schools from Hawaii to Virginia, been a script judge for several contests, written documentaries and training films for a production studio in Virginia, had published two award winning books on screenwriting, and won several national screenwriting contests. He has also sold many articles to national magazines, and published several short stories.
His students have sold scripts to Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Studios, ABC, HBO, Showtime, PBS. They have also sold scripts to and/or been on staff at Home Improvement, Roseanne, The Nanny, Cupid (with Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena—Warrior Princess, and Crossing Jordan, to name a few. One of his former students is presently Co-Executive Producer of the CBS show Person of Interest.
Thanks to all students who submitted work as well as their faculty mentors for encouraging them to write and submit. We hope to see all of you at the Festival, which will be held March 24-26 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The U.S. Army established Fort Smith as a military outpost in 1817. The City of Fort Smith is home to Arkansas’ oldest symphony orchestra and the state’s oldest continuously-running volunteer little theatre. Fort Smith is a hub for artistic development, with murals from the Unexpected Project adding color and life to the Downtown Area. Fort Smith is also steeped in Old West lore, from books and films like True Grit to some colorful real-world characters like Belle Starr, Judge Isaac C. Parker, U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, and the Founder of the U.S. Army Rangers, General William O. Darby.
Each semester, more than 6,700 students begin their future at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Established as a junior college with 34 students in 1928, the university expanded in size and vision over the years, finally taking on its current name and identity as a premier regional university when it joined the University of Arkansas System in 2002.