In Jonesborough, Tennessee, the storytelling capital of the world, tickets are now on sale for the National Storytelling Festival (NSF), an annual gathering of some of the world’s top talent. The oldest and most prestigious festival of its kind, NSF offers one-day and weekend passes for regular programming, as well as one-time admission to special events.
The autumnal celebration of the world’s oral traditions has been an annual tradition since 1973, when the first National Storytelling Festival spawned the American storytelling revival.The three-day celebration of oral traditions from around the world—
recently named one of the top tourist attractions in the nation by TripAdvisor.com—is the flagship event of its producer, the International Storytelling Center. The Festival runs October 6 – 8, with regular programming scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The 2017 Festival will feature nearly two dozen storytellers who will take turns performing under big-top tents scattered across downtown Jonesborough. The diverse lineup includes master of improvisation Ben Haggarty, of Britain, known internationally for his playful, physical and challenging performances of stories; Cuban-American dynamo Carmen Deedy; four-time Grammy award winner and minstrel storyteller David Holt; and Anne Shimojima, who will share folk tales from her Asian heritage and around the world, as well as her Japanese American family’s WWII incarceration camp story.
A homecoming for some of the industry’s finest performers, this year’s featured tellers also include perennial favorites such as Donald Davis, Sheila Kay Adams, and Bil Lepp. By showcasing oral traditions from the South and all over the world, the Festival inspires unexpected connections and promotes cultural understanding.
In addition to the Festival’s signature programming, there are a handful of special events included in the price of the ticket, such as Exchange Place, a concert featuring new talent; the Swappin’ Ground, where anyone can tell a story; and a Story Slam, where participants compete for cash prizes. Separately ticketed events include two nights of al fresco Ghost Stories; and the Friday night Midnight Cabaret, featuring Andy Offutt Irwin.
Two pre-Festival concerts will also be held on the Festival grounds. The Wednesday, October 4th show features Donald Davis, and the Thursday, October 5th concert showcases Jeanne Robertson. Both all-ages shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be reserved in advance or purchased on site, while supplies last.
Tickets for the National Storytelling Festival — as well as all special events throughout the week — can be purchased online at www.storytellingcenter.net, at the International Storytelling Center (ISC) in downtown Jonesborough, or on the Festival grounds. The National Storytelling Festival is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, and the Niswonger Foundation. For more information or to make reservations, call ISC at (800) 952-8392, ext. 221.