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Jonesborough to celebrate its 43rd Storytelling Festival

Fall has arrived bringing vivid colored leaves and the 43rd National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough on Oct. 2, 3, and 4.
Again this year, thousands will flock to this celebration in the town known as the Storytelling Capital of the World.
The Herald&Tribune welcomes visitors to Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Whether you are a first-time visitor or have been to a number of celebrations, you are sure to find this place full of activities, great food and opportunities to make new friends.
To help you enjoy the weekend and enhance your visit, this week’s newspaper features a 24-page special section about the Storytelling Festival.
If you consider yourself a storyteller, the weekend gives you a chance to display your talents at the Swappin’ Ground on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. To share a story of your own, just sign up at the Festival Headquarters in the Christopher Taylor Cabin on Main Street.
At Jonesborough’s first Storytelling Festival in 1973, a handful of storytellers gathered around the town square and traded tales. An old wagon served as the stage, and listeners took their seats on bales of hay.
The Swappin’ Ground at Storytelling Park continues that tradition.
For a modern approach to storytelling, consider going to the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall in the International Storytelling Center. On Friday and Saturday, you can listen to Eth-Noh-Tec, a highly-acclaimed multi-media story of movement, music and the spoken word.
Titled “Red Altar,” this production takes place in a small coastal area along Carmel Bay in 1850 when six Chinese teenagers survived their junk boat crash in 1850. They started a fishing industry despite mounting anti-Chinese violence. Discover their dreams and what happened to them. Be advised, seating at the production is limited.
Also at the hall on Saturday evening is a special event titled “Falling For Emily Dickinson.” A separate ticket is required for this event as are the Ghost Stories at Mill Spring Park on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
For those people who can stay up late and don’t mind paying a little bit extra, the Dill Pickers will present the Midnight Cabaret in the College Street Tent.
The three-day festival features five tents full of storytellers.
The names of the festival’s internationally known storytellers will be familiar to many attendees. If you want to meet the tellers, they are available in the Festival Marketplace where they will be happy to talk and autograph copies of their books and CDs.
The list of names includes Jeanne Robertson, Donald Davis, Peter Cook, Charlotte Blake Alston, Jay O’Callahan, Adam Booth, Dolores Hydock, Andy Offutt Irwin, Kim Weitkamp, Doug Elliott, Susan Klein, Beth Horner, Waddie Mitchell, Bil Lepp, Don White, Noa Baum, Megan Hicks, Shelia Arnold Jones and Antonio Rocha. You will need to check the times for their appearances.
Thumbing through the pages of today’s Herald&Tribune, you will discover tales on Friday include the true story of a sassy, ambitious woman born in 1913; a new Appalachian retelling of two familiar folktales, set in the beginning of the country music industry; a 12-year-old girl’s recollection collected in her diaries of the Civil War; and a Lapland program of Scandinavian spirit where life and legend join together.
The topics of the storytellers’ stories on Saturday include an account of the Hicks boys ginseng hunting trip; a tavern slave from Williamsburg’s invitation to a gathering; an Israeli’s storyteller’s personal story of her friendship with a Palestinian woman; stories of lovers and luring beings from other worlds; two friends headed for Europe for a year; and an early Christmas story. The H&T’s special section does not contain daily program listings for the tellers. The listings can be found in the programs provided to those purchasing tickets for the festival.
While this account of the festival’s storytelling activities is not complete, hopefully it will encourage you to read through the H&T’s special section. Take time also to look at historic Jonesborough’s other attractions or as suggested by the town’s website, “You don’t have to listen to storytelling performances to enjoy a good story. When you visit Jonesborough, you can sit on the porch of one of our charming hotels or bed-and-breakfast inns and spin a tale or two with your family and friends. With excellent shopping, dining and great storytelling entertainment all within the sound of your voice, visitors can enjoy a delightful journey into the past.”
Again, welcome. Have fun in Historic Jonesborough.