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Celebrate spring by discovering the masterful works of accomplished authors, artists and artisans who call Mississippi home.

“Mississippi is recognized around the world as a center for creativity and accomplishment in the arts and literary arts,” said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. “As spring arrives in our state, there are so many events and activities for visitors to enjoy that showcase our tradition of excellence through every imaginable creative outlet.”

Mississippi, known as the most Southern of all states, invites visitors to experience the homes, studios, shops and workshops where these artists and writers create and display their work. From the towns in the foothills of the Appalachians in northeast Mississippi to the spectacular Mississippi Gulf Coast, a tour that is centered on Mississippi’s offerings in the arts and literary arts is one of endless variety and depth.

Special Events in March

The 2013 Oxford Conference for the Book is set March 21-23 and is the 20th annual event to celebrate books, reading and writing. It is only fitting that the conference is held each year in the beautiful town of Oxford, Miss., home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner and his beloved residence, Rowan Oak, which is also open to the public. To learn more about this event, go to www.oxfordconferenceforthebook.com.

For those who love fine art as well as artisan crafts, don’t miss the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival, April 6-7, in Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland. This festival was recently named a Top Twenty Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. It is a juried show that features some of America’s finest artists and artisans working in clay, drawing/pastels, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and wood. For all the details on this excellent event, go to www.renaissanceartsfest.com.

Events like the Columbus Spring Pilgrimage, which is April 1-13 this year, highlights another aspect of the state’s arts culture: architecture.

Specialty Shops, Galleries, Studios, Museums and Festivals

There are many colorful arts festivals all across the state throughout the year. Highlights include the Annual Gum Tree Festival in Tupelo in May and the 36th Chimneyville Crafts Festival in Jackson this November. Craftsman’s studios including Peters Pottery in Mound Bayou and McCarty Pottery in Merigold are Mississippi Delta standouts for local work. If you’re in Jackson, be sure to go to the Wolfe Studio to see their vast flock of birds, woodland animals and other collectibles. In Gore Springs, Jan and Liz Carter create pottery using the raku process developed in 16th century Japan. Beans Ferry Pottery in Fulton, Hinkle Creek Pottery in Corinth, Joseph Eckles Stoneware in Hernando, Wyatt Waters’ studio in Clinton, Shearwater Pottery in Ocean Springs and Stewart Pottery in Taylor are exciting places you can shop for your own piece of the True South!

If you love spending time in galleries and gaining artistic insight through that avenue, Southern Breeze Gallery in Ridgeland and Nunnery’s Gallery 119 in Jackson are great places to find a unique work of Mississippi art. The Mississippi Museum of Art, also in Jackson, is Mississippi’s largest art museum and a must-see for anyone with an appreciation of a variety of artwork. Other museums here for art aficionados to enjoy include the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, the Fielding Wright Art Gallery on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.

While you are here, remember the numerous places to shop for unique gifts or other special treasures.The Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland, the Mississippi Gift Company in Greenwood, Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Square Books in Oxford, Hillyer House in Ocean Springs, Cathead Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale, Persnickety in Madison, Gulf South Gallery in McComb, Cover to Cover Books & More and Turning Pages Books & More in Natchez, Mississippi Mud Works and Realizations in Ocean Springs are just a few more of the places you’ll want to shop on your trip.

Celebrating Local Authors

When it comes to Southern literature, it’s universally known that Mississippi is home to many of the most talented writers of our time. And it’s not just their books that are celebrated here. Many of the homes of Mississippi’s famous authors are available for tours. Tennessee Williams home in Columbus, Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson and William Faulkner’s home in Oxford are historic, scenic and popular places to visit, especially in March as their surroundings come alive.

There’s just something unique, special and magical about Mississippi that produces authors like Willie Morris, John Grisham, Margaret Walker Alexander, Stephen Ambrose, Nevada Barr, Jill Conner Browne, Beth Henley, Shelby Foote, Ellen Gilchrist, Greg Iles, Walker Percy, Alice Walker and Kathryn Stockett.

The culture of the True South is on display this spring and all year long, only in Mississippi. For more information about artists, artisans, writers, events and interesting places to experience, go to www.VisitMississippi.org or call 1.866.SEE MISS today to learn more.

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