On the last Saturday in September, Marks invites everyone to come out to their Annual September Song Festival. Hosted by Les Grande Soeurs and the Quitman County Arts Council, this free event provides an opportunity for people to mingle, visit, shop, eat, and enjoy local entertainment.
History of the Festival
In the mid-80s, Mary Towner was appointed president of the Quitman County Arts Council, an organization that worked to insure the people of the area were exposed to various forms of cultural events. Towner, originally from Bentonia, Mississippi, grew up surrounded by the blues, and her family owns the nationally-registered Blues Front Cafe in Bentonia – the oldest juke joint in the state.
Over the years, Mrs. Towner worked to bring a multitude of dramatic presentations, musicians, plays, poetry readings, storytellers, and artists to the area. Always striving to do more, Mrs. Towner developed the idea of “September Song”. Her vision was to have the last Saturday in September dedicated to music, vendors, and fun for all residents of Quitman County.
The first September Song event was held on First Street in Marks. The day began with performances by choirs from Delta Academy, Marks Middle School, and a saxophone solo of the song, September Song by Keith White. Some of the entertainers for the day included Rev. Marvin Myles and Family, Vergia Towner Dishmon, Bentonia Male Chorus, the Delta Big Four, and Otis Clay of Chicago, Illinois. Vendors included local residents such as Montgomery Mart and Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs from Oak Park, Illinois.
Due to the success of the first September Song, Mrs. Towner continued organizing the annual event over the years. Eventually the Festival was moved to Third Street to be more visible to those traveling through the area.
Although Mrs. Towner has retired from its leadership, September Song continues to be popular and successful. We thank her for her vision and the positive impact this annual festival has had on our community.