Lovers of hearing and sharing stories can get ready to attend the Texas Storytelling Festival from March 12-15 at the Denton Civic Center.
The Texas Storytelling Festival is a four-day event hosted by the Tejas Storytelling Association, consisting of storytelling performances, workshops and a master class. This year will be the 35th anniversary of the festival and the event will be called “Tejas Live with 35” because there will be 35 storytellers instead of six in previous years, in honor of the anniversary.
The festival was founded by Finley Stewart to bring storytelling to the Texas region, said Toni Simmons, artistic co-director of the festival and Houston resident.
In preparing to host the event, those in charge have been responsible for selecting a venue, choosing the tellers and publicizing the event. These tasks have been crucial to provide a worthwhile experience for the attendees.
“People can expect to not only be entertained, but informed, inspired and come away with a feeling of wanting to share either their stories, their family stories or become part of the storytelling community,” Simmons said.
Simmons said the Tejas Storytelling Association hosts the event to introduce people to the art of storytelling. The association is a member-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to spread the love of storytelling with all types of people.
Storytellers come from many different backgrounds and experiences, including David Claunch, a Houston resident and Texas Storytelling Festival storyteller, who tells his stories based on oral tradition fused with his own experiences.
“This art form is the purest form of connection between human beings,” Claunch said. “We have naturally been telling stories ever since we could communicate.”
Storytelling is a hit among both storytellers and spectators because of the tradition and culture associated with it, said Carolyn Lucas, storytelling festival attendee and North Richland Hills resident.
“I attend storytelling events to nourish my soul, to learn stories I can share with children and adults and because it is just plain fun,” Lucas said.
People continue to attend the festival every year because of the culture that surrounds storytelling, said Elizabeth Bittner, a storytelling festival attendee from Fort Worth.
“The energy from the crowd and the experience of hearing a story together is very special and very different from listening to a storytelling podcast alone in my car,” Bittner said.
The four-day festival will kick off on Thursday with ghost stories, which they are calling “Shaken’ in Your Boots!” Friday and Saturday will include shorter storytelling concerts and workshops, and people will have the flexibility to design their own schedule and go where their interest is sparked most. On Saturday, there will be an invitational contest called the “Liar’s Contest,” with past winners competing and telling their stories. Saturday will also be “Kids Day,” with free workshops and performances catered to children, some of which will be put on by children.
Every evening of the festival, there will be storytelling concerts that are open to the public.
The storytellers look forward to the festival every year because of the bonds they have formed with the other tellers.
“Storytelling is all about community,” said Steve Daut, Texas Storytelling Festival performer and Chelsea, Michigan resident. “Attending and participating in these events presents an opportunity for those of us who tell stories to see old friends and colleagues, and meet new ones.”
A few hundred people are projected to come by each day of the event and by the end of the festival, thousands are expected to have been in attendance, Simmons said.
“I am expecting the 2020 festival to be even better than previous ones,” Lucas said. “They get better and better each year.”
The Texas Storytelling Festival has many free events for attendees but a full festival pass costs $95 for members of the Tejas Storytelling Association, and $130 for non-members. Participants can also purchase single day passes, which are $50 for members of the association and $75 for non-members.
More information about registration and the full event schedule can be found on https://tejasstorytelling.com/festival/.
Courtesy Tejas Storytelling Association