Keeping alive a lost art

Apr. 29, 2014 @ 08:06 PM

Community members used their imagination to explore different cultures Tuesday at the 2014 Storytelling Festival.

Perry Memorial Library, with the help of the Friends of the Library, brought 12 storytellers from across the state to perform in a day-long festival of folk tales and fables.

Fourth graders from Vance County Schools arrived by bus for the daytime sessions and listened attentively to tales of beans, dragons and life in the past.

Storytellers shared life lessons and encouraged students to use their imaginations, be creative and explore different cultures.

“One thing I learned is that you can make a story by using your imagination and, while you go, keep making up stuff,” 9-year old Mariam Lawson said.

Featured storytellers were Willa Brigham, host of TV show “Smart Start Kids,” North Carolina historian Ramona Big Eagle, Kim Weitkamp and Ron Jones.

During the day, the featured storytellers shared the stages with eight other regional storytellers. Many were librarians and authors who participated in the festival every year.

“When I decided to become a professional storyteller this festival was one of the first places I went,” storyteller Henry Vogel said. “I have been doing it eight years now. It’s fun. You get to see a lot of great kids enjoying your work and you get to meet other storytellers, too.”

Featured storyteller and historian Ramona Big Eagle said her 35 years of storytelling experience showed her the role storytelling plays in everyday life.

“All of life is a story,” she said. “As we live our daily lives we are either storytellers or story listeners at any given time. So listen well and tell well for this is how we live our lives and pass on life.”

Perry Memorial Library’s storytelling festival has happened annually over the last 18 years.

This year it was headed by Patti McAnally, the library’s assistant director and youth services librarian.

“Storytelling has become a lost art,” McAnally said when asked the purpose of the event. “I think its important that kids get to use their imagination to learn life lessons.”

At the 6 p.m. session, families were invited to join the festival and hear the four featured speakers.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.