Fans plan 125th birthday party for famed author

Washington, D.C., native Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings found fame in Florida after writing about the Cross Creek and the Alachua County area, earning her the Pulitzer prize in 1939 for her novel “The Yearling.”

Floridians esteem Rawlings for her portrayal of the state throughout her books—so much so, in fact, that the Friends of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm host a birthday party for the author each year.

This year’s 125th birthday party is planned for this Saturday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.

The event will feature a dedication for the new trail markers, a surprise video, live music and cake―along with mango ice cream made according to Rawlings’ recipe in Cross Creek Cookery.

Portions of an interview with Claude Jarman Jr., who played Jody Baxter in the 1946 adaptation of “The Yearling,” will play at the event.

The video interview will serve as a preview to Jarman’s in-person visit to the farm in December to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the movie’s premiere.

Barbara Wingo, president of the Friends of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm, said visitors get to see a little of old Florida like Rawlings experienced in the 30s and 40s.

“[Rawlings books] basically were about this area and the natural environment of the area, of which she was very concerned, as well of the people of the area,” Wingo said in a phone interview.

Fans gather for a Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings birthday party in 2019

Visitors will get a peek at the farmhouse while it’s closed for archival cleaning during August and September.

Attendance for the birthday party has grown, and Wingo said she hopes people continue to come and learn about Rawlings and why she made Cross Creek home.

“Besides, you get ice cream and cake,” Wingo said.

Rawlings moved to Cross Creek in 1928 and lived at the farmhouse there until her death in 1958. In 2007, the National Park Service declared her farmhouse a national historic site, and she was honored as a First Floridian in 2009.

Placard on the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings quotation trail
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