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Most of us like a good story. If we're not reading a story or telling a tale to our children, we're relating a personal event or humorous story to our coworkers. In 1973, Jimmie Neil Smith, Doc McConnell and some other professional storytellers decided to get together in Jonesborough, Tennessee and spend a weekend telling stories to whomever would come and listen. Since then, the National Storytelling Festival has attracted storytellers from around the world to tell folk tales, ghost stories, and real-life experiences to thousands of eager listeners. The Storytellers introduces some of the veterans of the National Storytelling Festival and presents an hour of tales that will make you chuckle, gasp, and concentrate on every word until the end. Meet Doc McConnell, who has been doing an old-time medicine show since the Festival began in 1973. Ray Hicks, a favorite North Carolinian storyteller, tells some mountain yarns and talks about his years at the Festival. Jackie Torrence and Connie Regan Blake, also from North Carolina, share stories of their own and talk about the importance of storytelling in American life.
So whether you're still a child at heart or just like hearing a good story--true or not--settle in a comfortable chair for an hour of good stories on The Storytellers.
The National Storytelling Festival
Since 1973 Jonesborough, Tennessee has been the place to go in October to hear a good story. After Jimmy Neil Smith, a high school journalism teacher, took his students to hear Grand Ole Opry regular Jerry Clower tell tales about coon hunting in Mississippi, he decided to start a festival of his own in east Tennessee. The purpose of this festival -- to exchange stories. Thus the National Storytelling Festival was born.
The first Festival drew only 60 people altogether, but word spread and fame grew. A storytelling revival began, partially spearheaded by Smith, who founded the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling. Soon news of the festival and the association began appearing on radio, television and national magazines. Afterwards, people of various ages and careers, from different parts of the country, registered to participate in or attend the National Storytelling Festival. What began as a carload of high school students listening to a folktale became an international annual event.
The 2001 National Storytelling Festival is October 5-7, marking the 29th year of the festival. For more information about how to register, who will be there or how to get to Jonesborough, see the National Storytelling Festival Web site.