the National Storytelling Festival
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It’s that time of year again. Get ready for an increase in traffic and waiting for the traffic to clear at inter-sections. ‘Leave early’ if you must travel through this quaint little town next weekend. Why the confusion? What’s happening? If you’re a local, you know what’s going on. Visitors and spectators are beginning to hear the buzz as they scurry to change their plans or itineraries. And if you are just traveling through you are asking, “Why are all these people here in this small East Tennessee community?” No place to park, people crossing the streets and highways in droves, the smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes filling the air… It’s the 38th annual National Storytelling Festival held each year in Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough Tennessee.
the largest and oldest event of its kind in America
This occasion is the largest and oldest event of its kind in America; the National Storytelling Festival attracts audiences from across the United States and the world. Jimmy Neil Smith, the founder of the festival and president of the International Storytelling Center (ISC) says, “The festival is a powerful demonstration of storytelling’s universal appeal. As millions of story lovers from all over the world know, there is no substitute for the power, simplicity, and basic truth of a well-told story.” Since the very first festival in 1973, people have gathered in Jonesborough each year with families and friends to listen, as well as tell stories while paying tribute to the world’s finest stories, storytellers, and storytelling traditions.”
“the leading event of its kind in America”
Produced by the ISC, the three-day outdoor festival features performances by internationally-known artists and has been hailed as “the leading event of its kind in America” by USA Today. This year’s featured performers include audience favorites Donald Davis and Kathryn Windham, regional voices like Andy Offutt-Irwin and Bill Lepp, and international perspectives from Eth-Noh-Tec and Abbi Patrix.
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“The broad range of stories and artists enchant all ages and speaks to people of all backgrounds"
Whether you’re an avid storytelling fan who has attended for many years or a first timer, the event offers a unique experience for all. “During the Festival weekend, visitors will experience a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles” says Susan O’Connor, ISC’s, Director of Programs. “The broad range of stories and artists enchant all ages and speaks to people of all backgrounds.”
Storytelling concerts, which are held under big-top tents, scattered across the historic town, begin at 10 AM on October 1, and continuing until 4:30 PM on October 3. This year’s Festival features performances by more than 25 storytellers who deliver traditional tales, multicultural folklore, contemporary legends, and more for everyone’s enjoyment.