Writers, readers, authors and artists gathered Feb. 19 at Hemstead Hall at Hemingbough in St. Francisville for the ninth annual Writers and Readers Symposium.

The event featured authors Margaret McMullan, Michael Rubin, Mona Lisa Saloy and Philip Gould, as well as muralist Robert Dafford.

The symposium was presented by the nonprofit A Celebration of Literature and Art, Inc.

Carolyn Thornton, a local writer and artist, moderated a panel featuring the five authors, who autographed books for attendees and spoke with students from West Feliciana middle and high schools.

Emma Beauchamp, Skyler Castello, Barrow Clement, Bethany McMorris and Mary Austin Willis were selected by CLA Board members, along with English teacher Pam Freshney, to attend the event complimentary of Hemingbough owner Arlin Dease.

The students received a paperback copy of their choice written by one of the featured authors. Missy Couhig, owner of The Conundrum, a books and puzzles store in St. Francisville, organized a book sale of the authors’ books.

In addition to the author’s panel, “A Novel Image” art show featured work by West Feliciana Parish area artists and photographers. Digital imagery, paintings, drawings and sculptures connected in some way with a book or a novel and were judged by attendees.

Tying for first place were Steve Gaudet for his painting “Sunset at Lake Crane” and CLA Board president and artist Olivia Pass for her painting “Room with a View.” The drawing “A Christmas Memory” by Lynn Wood won second place.

The winners were awarded the book of their choice from those featured in the sale.

According to Pass, the symposium was the “best ever.”

“Of course, I say that every year, but this year, the symposium was attended by writers from throughout Louisiana and Mississippi, a book club from Many, Louisiana, called Eclectics, whose members have traveled here the past three years, and Diane Martin, of Morgan City, who has attended every one of the nine symposiums,” Pass said.

Following Saturday’s symposium, a sold-out writers workshop led by McMullen was held at the West Feliciana Library and featured 14 area writers, whose work was critiqued by the author.

Funding for both events was provided by the Decentralized Arts Funding in Louisiana and Entergy’s River Bend Nuclear Station in St. Francisville, as well as donations from area businessmen and women and private supporters.

“The funding we receive is tremendous. These events simply could not continue without everyone’s support,” Pass said.

The CLA Board includes Pass as president; Allison Boyles, secretary; Cathy Troy, treasurer; Cheryl Singer, the symposium’s co-chairwoman; and Darlene Reaves, art show chairwoman.