You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it. ~Margaret Atwood
I got to do something I’ve wanted to do for years yesterday. Go back to the Cave Run Storytelling Festival. I went once before, probably ten years or more ago. The one yesterday was their 18th event. I wish I could have gone to every one they had. I love hearing people tell stories. But after that first visit years ago, something always happened on the fourth Saturday in September to make a return trip impossible. Most of those years I had the date marked in my calendar book with hope that this time I’d be able to make it happen. First my family had yearly reunions that same weekend. One or two years I may have simply forgotten to check out the date soon enough. Then Mom got ill and I was having to stay with her. One year I had surgery. Last year I was on vacation with my daughter.
But finally, this year I marked my calendar and talked my husband into going and then invited my whole family to come along. Only one son and his family were able to actually go, but having them along did make the storytelling even more fun. That son’s family had the pleasure of attending the National Storytelling Festival in 2015 so they had already been bitten by the storytelling bug. When I told them Bil Lepp was going to be there, they were all on board after seeing him at that other storytelling festival. Bil Lepp is a great storyteller. We all enjoyed him and laughed a lot. But we also enjoyed the other storytellers too. I especially liked Josh Goforth with his Appalachian stories and songs about his family. So many fun stories. I should have taken notes so I could share some of the bits with you. But sometimes it’s all in the delivery.
It made it nice that the festival was in such a beautiful place. That’s the sunset I got to see before the night session started. The tent was set up right on the banks of the Cave Run Lake, so the sparkling water with boats zooming by made a great backdrop for the storytellers. It was hot. So a lot of listeners stayed outside the tent in lawn chairs or on blankets. We went in the tent so we could see the performers’ faces, but we had to do some fanning now and again.
Besides the professional storytellers, they had an amateur session. People put in their names for a chance to tell a story. Then if their names was drawn, they had five minutes to tell a story. Some of these were definitely amateurs. Others were better, and one little seven-year-old girl got up and told a story about Stinky the Skunk. My seven-year-old granddaughter thought her story was the best she’d heard all day. I’ll have to remember that the next time she asks me to tell her a story and let Stinky the skunk have a role. 🙂 The grandkids all told their father he should have put in his name to tell a story because he’s great at making up bedtime stories for them. I tell the kids bedtime stories too, but I never think they’re that good. With my first granddaughter I had this kid named Sally who was always getting into the most amazing trouble, but the younger grandkids were never that excited about my Sally stories. I had to come up with something else for them.
But I’m better at telling stories on paper. Or these days on a computer. That’s where stories can flow when my fingers are on the keyboard and letters start spreading across the screen in front of my eyes.
Somebody once called me a storyteller and that has been one of the sweetest compliments I’ve every received about my writing. I might not be able to do it orally, but give me that keyboard and let me tell your a story. Thanks so much for reading.
My life is storytelling. I believe in stories, in their incredible power to keep people alive, to keep the living alive, and the dead. ~Tim O’Brien