By COLLIN BROOKS
The Town of Jonesborough can take a collective deep breath as it rejoices in the success of the 44th annual National Storytelling Festival, according to International Storytelling Center Executive Director Kiran Singh Sirah.
“I can take a deep breath and I hope everyone else can take a deep breath,” Sirah said. “We did this together, that means the town, volunteers and supporters. This is a team effort and I would say the festival is large enough to be the National Storytelling Festival but it still turns out to be a community grassroots effort. And that is what I am proud of.”
Sirah estimated that around 10,000 patrons turned out for the festival, but said that exact numbers won’t be ready until the end of the week. He did eagerly announce a list of over 25 countries that live-streamed stories from the tents on Friday.
The live stream feature is funded through an educational grant from the Niswonger Foundation. The event streams the Friday section because it is the most family-focused day and is specifically geared towards young people and their families.
“We do that as an outreach for schools across the nation and it has been growing every year,” Sirah said. “And while we haven’t got the numbers for this year, with that many countries, we had more (viewers) this year.”
Another push that Sirah and his staff focused on was a larger social media presence, which he said helped the festival this year.
“We had a whole team put together that did the entire social media realm from Snapchat to Twitter; and we started working on that in advance with special promotions on social media and other alternative routes that we hadn’t thought of yet and that was led by young people for young people,” Sirah said.
All-in-all though, Sirah said that the atmosphere was what made the festival a success whether it was the variety of food or the variety of storytellers.
“The atmosphere was really positive and people really seemed to enjoy themselves,” Sirah said. “People appreciated the hospitality from Jonesborough.”