A local's guide to the National Storytelling Festival

Jessica Fuller • Oct 1, 2018 at 11:21 AM

Thousands of people from all over the country are going to start streaming to Jonesborough in a few weeks for the National Storytelling Festival.  While a weekend pass has much to offer over the three-day festival, several standalone events are available to give the curious spectators a slice of a 46-year-old tradition. 

”Storytelling is the world’s oldest art form and the oldest form of communication,” International Storytelling Center president KiranSingh Sirah said. “In every one of us there are thousands upon thousands of stories. We live our lives through story; we dream in stories. We don’t talk in facts; we talk in stories. That’s what connects us on a human level.”

Back to School with Donald Davis 

Early birds can catch festival favorite Donald Davis on Oct. 3 in the Library Tent on festival grounds starting at 7:30 p.m. as he traverses back to his school days, highlighting some of his most memorable teachers from his past. The concert is a good way for locals to try out a storytelling concert without committing to a full weekend ticket.

Tickets to Davis’ concert are $20. 

The Black Lillies 

Knoxville-based folk group The Black Lillies are kicking the weekend off right on Oct. 4 with a special concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the International Storytelling Center in downtown Jonesborough. 

Tickets to the all-ages show are $20. 

Midnight Cabaret

Back by popular demand, the Midnight Cabaret toward the night owl looking for a fun, unique way to spend the evening. Tellers Sheila Kay Adams and Josh Goforth will be steering the comedy-fueled concert dubbed “Time Has Made a Change,” bringing toe-tapping music and tales to the event as natives of Madison County, North Carolina. 

The cabaret begins at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, and tickets to the event are $20 per person. Advanced reservations are encourage, as the event has been known to pack the house in past years. This concert is recommended for mature audiences. 

Ghost Stories 

For the Halloween-ready, the festival offers a series of special ghost stories during the weekend. Expert tellers Elizabeth Ellis and Joseph Bruchac will complete the night on Oct. 5 and 6 with frightening Tennessee tales under a dark October sky. 

Tales begin at 8 p.m. both days on the International Storytelling Festival Grounds, and attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or a chair. Tickets are sold online or at the gate and are $10 for all ages. 

Storied yoga 

Downtown Yoga Center instructor Kim Blaine will be weaving inspirations from Hindu mythology, yogic philosophies, historical narratives and current events into a free hourlong yoga session on Oct. 6 and 7 in the green space between the Tent on the Hill and the Swappin’ Grounds. There will be a limited amount of free mats for use, but yogis are encouraged to bring their own mat or towel for the experience. 

Abby the Spoon Lady 

What do you get when you mix Abby’s spoons with one-man-band Chris Rodrigues? You get a show like no other, and one you can catch during the National Storytelling Festival. Abby and Chris gained international recognition as street performers in Asheville, and they have two shows to catch during the weekend on Oct. 6 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets to each show are $15. 

Tickets for the festival and all standalone events are available online at storytellingcenter.net, by calling 800-952-8392, ext. 222 or are available for purchase on festival grounds.


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