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Monday, October 7, 2013

National Storytelling Festival: Do It!

The main street at dawn ...
Old Medicine Show wagon from a previous storyteller ...
If you are a person passionate for stories, a good listener who delights in humor and is "man" or "woman" enough to shed a tear when necessary, have I got an event for you! The National Storytelling Festival held in Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough, is a wonderful experience well worth the price of admission (this year that was $170 a person for Friday, Saturday, and a half day Sunday ... which seems steep until you think what you'd pay to see each teller individually and add up how many you are treated to in those two and a half days). You arrive on Thursday and register, paying your admission fee and receiving a quilting swatch as your badge of admission. Never take that swatch off while at the festival! This year's celebration occurred on October 4-6 in warm, sunny weather with temperatures in the 80s in the middle of the day.

Original log cabin, 1777, moved about 1 mile to this location ....

First, a little about Jonesborough. To say the town is scenic is a ridiculous understatement. You'll find eye candy architecture everywhere you look from the main street to the back alleys. It's ridiculous. There are shops there to cater to all your needs, wants, and those souvenirs to take back to those you left behind. There are some gorgeous inns there you can set your sights (and wallet) to staying in some far future year. Talk to them about what's possible and what's not. My wife and I stayed in Kingsport and that worked out fine.
Baptist church to the far right of street scene ...

History Museum ...
There were several startling discoveries in town. Did you know the first abolitionist publications came out of Jonesborough, Tennessee? Me neither. Who'd a thunk it! I was impressed. It was bizarre to travel 500 miles from home in the northeast to find a guy settled there from Lancaster, PA, to start an Inn, as well. That's fairly close to me. Then a guy wearing a tee shirt from a storytelling festival in June in my neck of the woods walked by and we had a lively discussion of the possibilities. You never know who you'll meet in Jonesborough!
First abolitionist publication site ...
that's the Presbyterian church right there.

My Dad and Mom have gone to this festival for decades and raved about it. I was always planning on going with them both one fine year. Then Mom developed the evil disease ALS ... and that opportunity was lost. So, this year my wife and I went with Dad and some mutual friends (we're definitely mutual friends now after sharing in the laughter) and had a ball.

Kevin Kling
The storytellers themselves were wonderful. I knew they would be when the MC for the first session, Kevin Kling, a theologian and storyteller in his own right who I'd heard on Krista Tippett's program OnBeing, took the stage. And the tellers ... well, look them up, find their work, and listen to it on CD for yourself. The collection of tellers shown here are all worth a listen (and they are far from every teller who graced the stage over those 3 days ... you can't cover them all, even if you go to the evening and midnight performances, although you'll come a lot closer than we did). Several are ministers or theologians, which was interesting and uplifting for me ... yeah, we pastors really can be funny ... and insightful! Really!!! One piece of advice though, don't let Minton Sparks write your obituary ... trust me.

This was the 41st National Storytelling Festival and there will be many more to come. Go, see for yourself. Unless you don't have a funny bone and hate stories. In that case, stay far, far away from this blessed event.

Striking house next to the site of the abolitionist publication ...
Church next door to yellow house

Old advertising ...
Flowers and tobacco ...
Eureka Inn ... you'd be lucky to get reservations ...
One of many places to be good to yourself between sets ...
It's scenic on the back streets too ...
It's scenic down the alley ...
Mural and whimsy ...
Recent restoration ...

And now for the stars of the show we saw in the Courthouse Tent (one of six available for listening pleasure):
Inside the big Courthouse tent!


Bill Lepp, 5 time winner of the West Virginia
Liar's Contest! Really!!
Geraldine Buckley, British storyteller,
former prison chaplain ...
Ed Stivender, storyteller and Catholic theologian ...
Minton Sparks, with John Jackson on acoustic guitar,
poetry and storytelling ... but, like I said, don't let her write your
obituary!!!
Reverend Robert Jones, Baptist preacher,
blues man with a steel guitar, storyteller ...
Donald Davis, brings to life his childhood in Southern Appalachia.
Oo, oo, oo, is he good!
Sheila Kay Adams, knows sooo many ballads!
Tim Lowry, a new voice this year, teller of folk tales, history,
and hysterical antics from school!
Syd Lieberman, whose stories about his Mom will make you laugh
and stories about his daughter may bring a tear to the eye. 




International Storytelling Center
If you want more information, see the International Storytelling Center's website at www.storytellingcenter.net. They'll set you straight and let you purchase tickets as well. It's never too early to start planning. Hope to see you there!

For more about storytelling and its virtues, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/05/telling-story-can-be-more-convincing.html


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