On Oct. 7-9, Jonesborough, Tennessee hosted the National Storytelling Festival, an event that drew people with a love for storytelling from far and wide.
Visitors to the National Storytelling Festival heard an eclectic assortment of stories, each as different and unique as the person sharing them. Storytellers such as Motoko, who is a mime and skilled in the art of Rakugo, and Barbara McBride-Smith, who tells Bible stories with a twist.
“It was different to think about a Japanese mime teller, but she commanded your attention,” said Chelsi Crockett, an ETSU student who attended the festival. “I enjoyed the humor. She was captivating.”
McBride-Smith brought her own take to Bible stories such as Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark, but each story was told from the woman’s perspective; going so far as to give Noah’s wife a name. She chose Norma-Jean. As she told each story, she made her love of the Bible clear and her respect for the women clearer.
“I really enjoyed her performance,” Crockett said. “I appreciated that she told the stories from a woman’s perspective, and that she kept them humorous while maintaining their authenticity, accuracy and importance.”
The rainy weather did not deter from the excitement of the audiences and the visitors exploring Historic Jonesborough. Guests had the opportunity to experience the town’s little shops and eateries as well as the fall atmosphere. The streets were always buzzing with people making their way to the next storyteller.
Motoko and McBride-Smith were not the only storytellers catching people’s attention that day. Tim Lowry, whose repertoire includes stories about the Civil War and the American revolution, and Michael Reno Harrell, a storyteller from the Southern Appalachian Mountains with four decades of experience, made an impression on April Johnson and Nannette Watts, two visitors who were in town for the festival.
“The revival this morning with Tim Lowry was amazing,” Johnson said.
“He is a polished professional. He will tell a story about his life; about something that resonates in a lot of people,” said Watts when discussing Harrell, one of her new favorite storytellers.
There were many storytellers and many more excited fans ready to hear the stories people had to share. The whole day was filled with an air of electricity that was not dampened by the rain. People were enthusiastic and full of joy to experience the performers.
Most of all, there a was feeling of closeness that can only be shared with strangers who have a similar love or passion for something
“The universality of story,” said April Johnson, discussing her favorite part of this festival. “How it really makes you connected to the past and the future; even the future in a different way.”