Come laugh with us for celebration

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get ready to laugh!

The 21st annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration opens this week with five days devoted to laughter and fun.

More than three dozen educational programs, films and discussion sessions follow the theme, “Humor in the Deep South.” Two pre-conference events take place Wednesday, with the majority of the conference set for Thursday through Sunday.

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Headquarters will be the Natchez Convention Center, where most programs take place. On Sunday, free writing workshops will take place at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Throughout, you will smile, giggle and laugh while exploring all kinds of humor, from slapstick to comic strips to satire and to all humorous points in between.

The best part is that all daytime events are absolutely free of charge. You don’t have to register to attend. Simply walk through the door at the Convention Center daily, beginning at 9 a.m.

Evening events cost $10 or $15, and the only fundraiser of the year for the NLCC costs $135, with $100 of that tax-deductible.

Plan now to take advantage of this world-class conference, founded by Copiah-Lincoln Community College and now sponsored by Co-Lin, the Natchez National Historical Park, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

How about a free movie that’s bound to make you laugh, though you might shed a tear or two?

Yes, in cooperation with Natchez Mall Cinema, “Steel Magnolias” will be shown free of charge at Natchez Mall Cinema on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. You need a ticket because of limited seating. The author of “Steel Magnolias,” Robert Harling, will speak at the NLCC at 4:30 p.m., Saturday.

How about a musical comedy to lift your spirits?

Yes, in cooperation with the Natchez Little Theatre, that rollicking musical comedy, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” will be performed at the theater at 7 p.m. Wednesday and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets cost $15. Proceeds from these two performances benefit the NLCC.

How about an incredible evening extravaganza at the Convention Center at 7:30 p.m., Friday?

The event features U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, Dillard University scholar Jerry W. Ward Jr., best-selling author Sam Haskell, vocalist Mary Haskell and Natchez’s own Miss America Lynda Lee Mead Shea, with a party afterward at historic Greenlea, all for $10.

How about the memory of a lifetime at Stanton Hall and the Carriage House? At 6 p.m., Saturday a limited number of people will enjoy a champagne reception and seated dinner with NLCC award winners and speakers. The dinner is based on “Steel Magnolias,” and, yes, the groom’s cake in the shape of an armadillo will be served!

After dinner you will laugh out loud with humorist Clyde Ray Webber of Ferriday. Tickets cost $135, with $100 tax-deductible.

In addition to those mentioned, the Olympic Award-winning NLCC also features such stars as the actor Gerald McRaney; the actress Jane Feltus Welch; the authors Clifton Taulbert, JoAnne Prichard Morris and Diane Williams; the historians James C. Cobb, Charles Reagan Wilson of The University of Mississippi, John Mayfield of Samford University, M. Thomas Inge of Randolph-Macon College and Robert S. McElvaine of Millsaps College; the cartoonist Marshall Ramsey; and scholars Trudier Harris of the University of North Carolina, Scott Dixon McDowell of the University of Southern Mississippi, Sarah McLaurin Vahlkamp of Danville, Ky., Steve Yarbrough of Emerson College and Gerald Wood of Carson-Newman College.

Hurry! All tickets are going fast. E-mail or call her at 601-446-1289 or toll-free 866-296-6522. To see the entire program lineup, visit

Be a part of what evaluators call the best humanities/arts conference in the South. See you at the NLCC!

Carolyn Vance Smith is the founder and co-chairman of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.