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Tall tale teller Anne Rutherford to perform at ISC

Anne Rutherford is coming to Jonesborough.


Jonesborough’s storyteller in residence for the week of the Fourth of July will be Anne Rutherford, a performer known for wildly entertaining tall tales, thoughtful family pieces, and unique historical stories.

Rutherford’s path to the profession was unexpected. Formerly a budget manager for the state, she made the jump to storytelling almost on a whim. The same open mindset led her to pick up the mandolin after she watched a documentary with a great soundtrack featuring the instrument.

She only realized later that she’d spent a lifetime in training to be an entertainer. “My grandpa was Irish, and when my mom’s side of the family got together, no tale was too tall to be told,” she says. “Even if it was a trip to the grocery store, somehow it became a huge adventure by the time one of my uncles or aunts would tell it.”

The larger-than-life personalities in Rutherford’s family make some of her personal tales stranger than fiction. Her hometown in rural Pennsylvania had a curious population (“half Norman Rockwell, half Stephen King”), with a small-town landscape that reminds her a little bit of Jonesborough. “I write a lot of my own stories and I think all of those oddball characters, my family included, really flavor those stories,” she says. “I just really appreciate them.”

Rutherford’s storytelling residency is part of Storytelling Live!, a seasonal program curated by the International Storytelling Center (ISC). She’ll perform at ISC’s downtown Jonesborough location from July 2 – 6, Tuesday through Saturday, with daily shows beginning at 2 p.m.

In addition to her matinee performances, on Saturday, July 6, the final day of her residency, Rutherford will offer a children’s concert at 10:30 a.m. The family show is especially designed for kids ages six through ten, but all ages are welcome. Tickets are just $5 each, and ticket holders will receive coupons for 15 percent off at The Lollipop Shop, a popular Main Street store that sells old-fashioned sweets and toys.

Reservations for all Storytelling Live! performances are highly recommended. Tickets for matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Heavily discounted season passes are still available for a limited time.

Exclusive discounts are still available to all ticketholders. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

Storytelling Live! is a seasonal program that runs from April to October.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit or call (800) 952-8392.