Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Alive and well...

Storytelling is alive and well!
Gather 'round people, and listen for a spell,
I've got stories and fables and tales to tell!

Listen to each story with imagination -
The stories you hear will be your own creation!
Storytelling is alive and well!

(as heard from Heather Forest, a long time ago)

Starting tonight, I imagine the traffic this weekend will be considerably heavier along Interstates 81 and 26, headed toward Jonesborough, Tennessee. Friday marks the kickoff of the 38th annual National Storytelling Festival in and around historic Jonesborough.

A dozen huge tents will be erected across town - with names like "Tent on the Hill" and "The Railroad Tent" - that will hold anywhere from 250 to 1,000 people. Every shop and vendor in Jonesborough will have warm cider, fresh donuts, homemade candy, and every kind of comfort food available all along the "downtown" area. for the throngs of people (usually upwards of 10,000) who flock from around the country to the Festival.

Friday night will kick off with an "olio," a kind of storyteller's sampler to give everyone a taste of what's ahead. Then on Saturday the storyteller's lineup will rotate between tents all over town, giving people a smorgasbord of amazing imagery, music, even dance. Saturday night will have the traditional Ghost Story Concert and the more recent Midnight Cabaret (for more "adult" themes). Sunday will be Sacred Storytelling - with open "swappin' grounds," storytelling areas for anyone who wants to sign up. There will be pure performance pieces, participation stories, and every kind of storytelling experience one can imagine.

Several of my all-time favorite storytellers - including preacher/storyteller Donald Davis, singer-storyteller John McCutcheon, Kathryn Tucker Windham and cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell - will be in the line-up. And the weather promises to be perfect festival weather - highs in the upper 60's to low 70's, overnight lows in the 40's, and blessedly clear skies. It should be a beautiful weekend for it.

Do I regret not being there? A little - Chris and I talked about going some year in the future, when things aren't quite so up in the air (although I think that $2.50 gas prices to make it economical have gone the way of once upon a time...). The problem is that the tickets have gotten up to $135 a person for the weekend - much cheaper than a big-name concert (especially on a per-hour basis) but a good-sized investment. That, plus hotel and food, plus gas for the 11-hour-each-way trip just wasn't going to make it in the budget this year.

Still, the idea of the drive through the changing colors, the drive in from hotels in Johnson City, and the smell of Krispy Kremes (the official corporate sponsor of the festival) wafting over the main streets of Jonesborough bring back the kinds of memories that just don't fade. So sometime this weekend, Chris and I will listen to The Storytellers version of "No News (or, What Killed The Dawg)," Gamble Rogers' infamous story "War Bunny" and Ed Stivender's classic retelling of Adam and Eve's story, and maybe even have a mug of warm spiced cider and donuts - and dream of October weekends stuffed, pressed-down and overflowing with stories.

To all the folks at the National Storytelling Network (formerly the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, or NAPPS), to all the tellers, and to children of every age who come to Jonesborough with wide eyes and open hearts: all my best to you.

1 comment:

Black Pete said...

Now it's my turn to envy!