Since we were kids, most of us were aware of the scripture that says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” even if we didn’t know it was found in the book of Proverbs. Modern medicine has now “proven the proverb,” and it is inarguable that laughter just flat makes folks feel better, most especially when they are laughing at themselves.
Well, if you need a good laugh, need to hear a good tale, need to be with good folks, and need to have a good, clean family time that won’t make you have to repent afterwards, then the 2012 6th Annual Storytelling Festival is the place for you and your kids. This year’s Storytellers’ will be held under the big tent on the East side of the Limestone County Courthouse beginning on Thursday, October 25th thru Saturday, October 27th.
Several new ‘tellers are on this year’s lineup, although none is new to the storytelling profession. Bobby Norfolk is a three time Emmy Award winner, and “tells” to children all over the world. His wife, Sherry Norfolk has a rare ability to teach values with humor by using several voices, and engaging her audiences interactively. Dolores Hydock creates several characters to tell her stories, which range in topic from being in love to her love of turnip greens. She is known for “talking” with her hands, elbows and shoulders. Kevin Kling, who is a veteran of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, teaches kids about right and wrong through the use of two characters named Goofus and Gallant. Of his two imaginary chums Kevin says, “Gallant cleans his room, Goofus sees if oily rags will burn in a window well.” Interestingly, (and in stark contrast to Dolores,) Kevin has managed to be wonderfully animated in his presentation in spite of the fact that a motorcycle accident left him with no use of his right arm whatsoever.
Veteran ‘tellers such as Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy and John McCutcheon will be back again this year, and all of them rave about the Athens event because of the legendary hospitality and honor that they experience each year. This year there will be an added treat, as John McCutcheon, who is one fine musician, will be giving a free concert on Thursday evening.
Several things stand out about our festival, starting with the fact that out of 300 national events, ours is the only one that sees to it that students from our school system as well as homeschoolers get to attend free of charge. Our legislators Dan Williams, Bill Holtzclaw and Mac McCutcheon work hard to get funding to make it possible. People and businesses alike pitch in to make the event something that, according to event organizer Wayne Kuykendall, “has an 80-100K dollar financial impact on our community.” There is more than just financial impact to be celebrated, though, and is best illustrated by an incident related last year at the Storyteller’s dinner held the night before the kickoff event.
Donald Davis, who is considered by many to be the “elder statesman” of the storytelling world was in line at the Walmart on Hwy 72. Sporting his trademark bow tie, he was recognized by the kid working behind the register. “Are you Donald Davis?,” the checker asked. Mr. Davis replied in the affirmative. “I saw you at Storytellers’ when I was still in school,” said the kid. He went on to tell Donald just how much he enjoyed it, how glad he was to have been able to hear all the tellers, and, most importantly, how he understood the importance of storytelling. And that, truly, is the point. Storytelling is about much more than making people laugh, or providing a safe place for families to enjoy themselves, or to put money in the coffers of local tourism. Telling stories preserves cultures, gives a sense of history as well as future, and is the basis of everything from gathering around a campfire to roast marshmallows, to imparting divine truths. As Lisa Adams, the Librarian for Limestone County Schools pointed out,
“I just want to tell you that I thought the Storytelling Festival was WONDERFUL, to
say the very least! That was the first time I have ever attended that type of event
and I loved it. I want my children to be able to enjoy events like this for years to come.”
Come and see what Miss Lisa and others have come to love so much, and “laugh ‘til you cry, and cry ‘til you laugh.”
Tickets can be purchased online at www.athensstorytellingfestival.com, or for more information, call Wayne Kuykendall at 256-232-0400
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner