Free, festive and fun: Thursday’s sixth annual Gatsby Gala kicks off Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival at MSU

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Internationally-renowned pianist Jeff Barnhart of Mystic, Connecticut, is serving his sixth year as artistic director for Mississippi State University Libraries’ Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival. Barnhart said he is excited to interact with patrons and world-renowned musicians during the festival’s Gatsby Gala, educational seminars, evening concerts and other fun activities. (Photo by Robert Lewis)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Roaring ’20s, one of the most influential eras in fashion, will come to life March 28 during Mississippi State University Libraries’ sixth annual Gatsby Gala.

Part of the 13th annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival, the 6 p.m. fashion show at Mitchell Memorial Library will feature 1920s-inspired apparel designed and created by MSU fashion design and merchandising students and modeled by MSU Fashion Board members. The students have worked on their designs under the guidance of Associate Professor Charles Freeman and Professor Catherine Black of MSU’s School of Human Sciences.

Admission is free to the event, which will take place in the library’s second-floor lobby. Attendees are encouraged to dress in their best 1920’s-inspired outfit.

Parking is available at the Old Main Academic Center parking garage on Barr Avenue. Patrons also can use MSU’s S.M.A.R.T. shuttle system for transportation to and from the festival.

MSU Libraries Associate Dean Stephen Cunetto said the popular Gatsby Gala is an outreach opportunity designed to incorporate the talents of MSU students. The event was the brainchild of former MSU Libraries employee Leilani Salter, who currently serves as assistant director of special events for MSU President Mark E. Keenum’s office.

Internationally-renowned pianist and sixth-year artistic director Jeff Barnhart of Mystic, Connecticut, will provide music for the gala, which will conclude with a reception. During a recent interview with WMSV 91.1 FM’s station manager Anthony Craven, Barnhart said the Gatsby Gala is a “big party” helping to make the Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival an unforgettable experience that “delights all of the senses.”

The popular Gatsby Gala fashion show returns to Mitchell Memorial Library at 6 p.m. Thursday [March 28] during Mississippi State University Libraries’ 13th annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival. The event features 1920s-inspired apparel designed and created by MSU fashion design and merchandising students and modeled by MSU Fashion Board members. (Photo by Robert Lewis)

“This is the sixth annual Gatsby Gala, and it is getting bigger and better every year as more people get involved,” Barnhart said. “Fashion design and merchandising students really go over the top every year, creating reinterpretations of 1920s looks from the Great Gatsby era, but putting their own stamp on it.”

Chip Templeton, festival co-chair and son of festival namesake Charles H. Templeton Sr., recently interviewed with WMSV student worker Margaret K. “Maggie” Thomas, a senior communication/broadcasting major from Tupelo. Templeton said MSU fashion design and merchandising students can study the covers of sheet music housed in the library’s Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum for inspiration in creating 1920s-themed fashion designs for the Gatsby Gala.

Templeton, who also serves as director of the MSU College of Business’s Small Business Development Center, added that he is looking forward to seeing how the festival impacts those who attend.“You’re going to be really wowed with the various types of music you’re going to hear, from Jerry Lee Lewis’s rock ‘n’ roll piano to Benny Goodman’s swing music. You might not know that you like those kinds of music until you hear them, and you’ll see something from the Big Band Era,” Templeton advises prospective attendees. “You’re going to realize that it actually ties into music that you already enjoy.”

Barnhart agreed that the Templeton festival provides members of the campus and surrounding communities “an opportunity to experience firsthand the best that our country has to offer as far as experts in the earlier styles of American music.”

“This festival is first-class from start to finish, with the care that we performers get from the library staff and the welcome that we receive from the school and the community. The instruments are first-class, too,” he said.

“As artistic director, I love hearing cheers and applause when introducing our audiences to some new performers. There are some gigs you come away from exhausted, but I come away from this one exhilarated every year,” Barnhart emphasized. “We ask everybody to come have a great time with us because this music is something you’ll never forget once you’ve heard it.”

To listen to WMSV’s full interviews with Barnhart and Templeton, tune in to 91.1 FM on Tuesday [March 26] at 5 p.m. and Wednesday [March 27] at 2 p.m. or stream online at

For more festival information and to purchase tickets, visit, call 662-325-6634 or email

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 2:58 pm