LOWELL -- "Everybody goes home in October."
Jack Kerouac famously wrote that line in "On the Road," arguably one of America's most important books, according to fans and scholars.
Sixty years after its publication, Kerouac fans will once again descend upon his hometown in October.
Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Inc., or LCK!, is gearing up for the October festival, which will feature tours of Kerouac's Lowell haunts, including many sites described in his novels, panel discussions, readings, jazz and folk music, films, open-mike events, book signings and more.
Kerouac fans and scholars from across the country and world are expected to travel to Lowell for the festival, which will observe the 60th anniversary of "On the Road," what many consider his masterpiece.
"We have a lot of exciting things going on to celebrate his literary life and legacy," said Judith Bessette, president of LCK!, a nonprofit group that promotes a better understanding and appreciation of Kerouac's life and literature.
"His work continues to have a great influence on authors and people from all over the world," she said.
There are more than 20 events planned from Oct. 5-9. (See Page S7.)
The festival's theme speaker is John Leland, an arts and culture feature writer for The New York Times and the author of "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think).
The weekend will also feature a living connection to Kerouac's novel -- a conversation with Jami Cassady, the daughter of Neal Cassady, who was the model for the famous Dean Moriarty character in Kerouac's novel. She will share her remembrances of the man she called "Uncle Jack."
"The whole weekend captures the spirit of Jack Kerouac," said Steve Edington, who has been on the LCK! committee for about 20 years. "It's a gathering of the tribe," he said. "You get to reconnect with people you've met over the years. We're excited about it."
Many, like Dan Bacon, call Kerouac Lowell's most famous son. His writings still have weight in the world today, stressed Bacon, who has been studying Kerouac for years.
"There is much more to know about him than we even thought," Bacon said. "The more you dig, the more you find."
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.