Rowan Oak’s pasture fences will come down Thursday evening to make room for the University of Mississippi Museum’s sixth annual Harvest Supper.
The Harvest Supper dinner and art auction takes place every year on the grounds of William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak. The event is the museum’s main fundraiser.
A significant portion of money raised by the event comes from ticket sales. Tickets are guaranteed to museum donors who give at or above the $500 level. After Labor Day, the museum made tickets available to the public for $150 each. It sold 400 tickets last year, but increased interest in the event led event coordinators to expand this year’s supper to serve 550 guests.
“It has grown so fast and become so popular just by word of mouth,” event coordinator Debra Nelson said. “Tickets sold out the day we opened them up to the public. There are some really interesting people who are going to be there.”
Large sums of money are donated to the museum during this event, but another source of income is the art auction. Each year, Friends of the Museum approaches artists — mainly local ones — to ask them to donate art. This year, 16 pieces from 15 different artists will be available at auction.
Artists donating works to this year’s auction include internationally recognized sculptor Tom Corbin; Robert Malone, adjunct assistant professor of art at the university; Philip Jackson, associate professor of art; and Jason Bouldin, whose paintings are also featured on invitations sent to last year’s Harvest Supper sponsors.
Some pieces are sold through a silent auction, and others are sold in live auction during the Harvest Supper. The silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the live auction begins at 8:05 p.m. Those interested in submitting an absentee bid should contact the museum before 5 p.m. Wednesday. All artwork being auctioned as part of the Harvest Supper will be on display in the museum until the day of the event.
The funds raised through donations and the sale of tickets and artwork will be used to fund museum efforts like the maintenance of exhibits, Rowan Oak, the Walton-Young Historic House and Bailey’s Woods Trail. They will also finance acquisitions and the museum’s education programs.
According to the museum’s website, “Harvest Supper provides a quintessential Oxford-Ole Miss experience – a picturesque evening at Faulkner’s Rowan Oak.”
The grounds of Rowan Oak, which are open to the public from dawn to dusk most days of the year, are familiar to many in the Oxford community, but the grounds will be transformed during the event. The crossbars of the pasture fence will be temporarily removed to allow patrons to move more freely across the grounds, and the area will be strung with lights. Guests will have dinner outdoors, and the auction will take place in the same area where Faulkner himself once entertained guests.
Food will be provided by Elizabeth Heiskell Catering and A&N Catering, two Oxford-based catering companies. There will also be musical performances by Shardé Thomas & the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band as well as the Mosquitoville Players.
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Although this year’s event has reached capacity, those interested in attending next year’s Harvest Supper can find information through the UM Museum’s website.