(Photo by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
The tents are up. The lights are going in. The staging is being assembled and all over Jonesborough preparations are in full swing for this weekend’s 41st annual International Storytelling Festival.
“We start about two weeks out,” Susan O’Connor, director of programs for the International Storytelling Center said on Monday. “It takes eight days to set up the tents. We started last week and the last tent went up today behind the courthouse.
“The crew is out now setting up the lighting and staging. Then comes the tables and chairs. It’s a work in progress.”
With a pre-festival concert by Southern teller Donald Davis set to begin 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Library Tent on Sabin Drive, the setup is happening in the nick of time.
O’Connor said the town is expected to begin filling up on Thursday morning with the opening of guest registration at the International Storyteller Center, Christopher Taylor Park and the Jonesborough Visitors Center.
And Thursday night there will be a Get the Party Started concert featuring the music and stories of Grammy winning folk artist Tim O’Brien and balladeer Nora Jane Struthers also in the Library Tent located between the Washington County Library and Jonesborough Visitors Center. The concert will begin at 7:30. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance at the Storytelling Center offices on Main Street or at the tent Thursday night.
The festival will get under way Friday morning and continue through Sunday afternoon with 19 featured tellers performing in five giant circus tents set up throughout the downtown historic district, all accessible by one or two day festival passes ranging in price from $45 for Sunday only to $130 for Saturday and Sunday.
Festival passes are also good for admission to
- Meet the Tellers, autograph sessions with many of festival’s featured tellers to be held in the Marketplace Tent Saturday from 11:15 to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Swappin’ Ground, open-mic sessions in Storytelling Park where anyone can tell a story by signing up at the Christopher Taylor Cabin Friday from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3
- Story Slam, a competitive 5-minute story telling duel among seven invited tellers starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Creekside Tent
- And Exchange Place Tellers, a showcase of six specially invited tellers to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the College Street Tent.
In addition to Davis’ Wednesday night concert and Thursday Get the Party Started concert, events accessible by separate, non-festival tickets include Friday and Saturday Ghost Stories on the ground at Mill Spring Park with Gayle Ross, Jon Spellman and other featured tellers; and Friday and Saturday night’s Midnight Cabaret, featuring the music and stories of Elizabeth Ellis with special guests Michael Reno Hall and Kim Weitkamp and The Broken Bucket Band. Ghost stories will be held from at 8 both nights and tickets are $10. Midnight Cabaret will begin at 10:30 both nights and tickets are $20.
Storytelling Studio, intimate, behind the scenes conversations with five the festival’s featured tellers, Donald Davis, Milbre Burch, Diane Ferlatte Ed Stivender and Syd Lieberman, will be held in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $15 per session and seating is very limited.
Yarnspinners’ Party, an annual benefit for the International Storytelling Center that celebrates all the festivals’ featured tellers with food, music and more, will be held Saturday night from 5 to 7 in the Storyteller center’s Parlor and upper level plaza. Tickets are $100.
For a complete schedule, festival brochures are available at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, the Storyteller Center, shops all over Jonesborough and online at www.storytellingcenter.net.