Southern LitFest set for June 3-5 in downtown Newnan

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From Special Reports

Pack your book bag, lace up your Converse and follow all roads leading to Georgia’s literary pathway and on to its trailhead: Historic Downtown Newnan, Georgia.

On the weekend of June 3 – 5, 2022, Newnan, the homebase of writers, poets and songsters such as Erskine Caldwell, Lewis Grizzard and Alan Jackson invites bookworms and merrymakers from all around to visit our fair town to “Git Lit!” Help celebrate all things southern and literary during Southern Litfest 2022. Join New York Times bestselling authors and columnists as they discuss what they love most about the south and later sample craft bourbons from the porches and homes of historic estates.

Soak in the alluring ambiance of a 175 year old neighborhood as you taste the event’s signature cocktail, the “Boll Weevil.” Visit Saturday morning Market Day for homemade crafts and food while catching as many author sessions as possible. Enter the Historic Coweta County Courthouse where “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf” is portrayed in a show stopping musical sure to amuse young and old alike. Later that morning, see “Lewis Grizzard: In His Own Words” also performed at the courthouse. Sean Dietrich, known as “Sean of the South” and “grit lit” author Karen White, discuss their works at Newnan’s Carnegie Library, while in the afternoon, Atlanta investigative reporter and thriller writer Chris Joyner speaks at the University of West. Georgia.

Magnolias. Green lawns. Bourbon. Rocking chairs. Storytelling. Bluegrass. Gospel. Historic homes. Poetry. BBQ. Iced tea. Dancing. Banana pudding. Coca-Cola. Did we mention first-rate authors? It all comes together for one magical southern moment in Historic downtown Newnan.

Remarkably all events are free. Advance registration recommended for author sessions and the children’s musical at the courthouse. For “Bourbon on the Porch,” a limited number of tickets ($75 at Eventbrite.com) are available which includes 4 different bourbon tastings in the Historic College-Temple Neighborhood and the concluding “Southern ShinDig” dinner at the McRitchie-Hollis museum. Live music is at each stop and at the dinner party.

On Saturday June 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., several of the South’s best known authors share secrets of what turns an experience into a great story.    Two distinguished author sessions and book signings take place at Newnan Carnegie Library and one at the University of West Georgia, Newnan Campus. Authors include: Karen White, New York Times Best Selling writer who will showcase her latest book “The Shop on Royal Street;” Sean Dietrich a.k.a. “Sean of the South” who is beloved for such tender forays into the southern soul as “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and “The Incredible Winston Browne;” Chris Joyner, an investigative writer whose most recent work “The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson” has taken the literary world by storm. He will hold court at the main lecture hall of the University of West Georgia, Newnan Campus.

Also on Saturday morning, 11:30 a.m., Bill Oberst Jr., actor and writer famous for his roles in iconic horror films,  performs his hit one-man show, “Lewis Grizzard: In His Own Words” at the Historic Coweta Courthouse. Endorsed by Lewis Grizzard’s widow, Deirdre, Oberst has been performing as Grizzard for years to much critical acclaim. Take in this free performance as our beloved Lewis Grizzard is brought to life. 

Saturday evening from 5 to 7 p.m residents of the Historic College Temple Neighborhood share their hospitality through  “Bourbon on the Porch.”  Stroll among four cherished southern homes. Sample unique single barrel bourbons and unique cocktails while you enjoy live bluegrass or jazz at each Southern sunporch. Mingle with amazing authors and local literary and bourbon aficionados. If you are truly blessed you might encounter a local pol soliciting your vote for the midterms.  

The magical evening concludes with a fabulous “Southern ShinDig” after party. From 7 to 9 p.m. at The McRitchie-Hollis Museum revelers experience some of the South’s best barbeque and sides while the indomitable, dance-inducing duo Arnotti-Stephens lead the entertainment.

On Friday, June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m., celebrate HomeTown Authors at the Historic Train Depot in downtown Newnan. Local favorite writers come together to compete in a “Roast the Toast” competition judged by the audience and professors of literature from the University of West Georgia. Come to this free, fun and uplifting event to meet local authors, laugh and enjoy camaraderie to kick-off the weekend!  

Guests and Literary Patrons return to the Carnegie Library Sunday at 2:30 p.m. to meet the incomparable Dr. Wayne Clough former President of Georgia Tech and recently retired Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.  He will share insights from his groundbreaking book, “Things New and Strange; A Southerner’s Journey through the Smithsonian Collections.”  

At 3:30, walk next door to Newnan’s Central Baptist Church where some of the world’s most treasured holy manuscripts will be displayed. Michael Morgan, concert organist for Columbia Theological Seminary and Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, possesses one of the largest collections of historic Bibles in private hands. He has agreed to showcase the stars of his collection inside the brand new Gathering Hall of the Central Baptist Church. For one of the few times in history the public will be able to view up close and personal printed editions of the Wycliff Bible, the Tyndale Scriptures, the Bishops Bible and a first printing of the translation authorized by James the VI of Scotland, James I of England or, in other words the King James Bible.

For more information, visit southernlitfest.com. Also, Eventbrite.com for Southern LitFest Bourbon on the Porch tickets, musical and  author registrations.

Proceeds benefit the Newnan Carnegie Library by helping them provide top-notch services and programs for all!

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