PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 2010) – Truth may be in short supply, but humor and great entertainment will be in abundance in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for a three-day talkfest in June.
June 10-12 are the dates for the 19th annual Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival, one of many stops on Pigeon Forge’s year-round calendar of special events.
The festival, one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Events” for June, features performers including a Harvard-educated storyteller whose alter ego is a moose, a Kentuckian who got in trouble even as a third-grader for stretching the truth and an East Tennessean who invented a musical instrument made from a toilet seat.
“Storytelling, especially Appalachian storytelling, has a great heritage, and our festival celebrates that tradition to the hilt,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
In addition to hearing professional storytellers, you’ll also hear from area storytellers who are members of the Smoky Mountain Storytelling Association and from young storytellers who have been invited from across the U.S.
You’ll also be able to attend storytelling workshops. In the workshops, you can simply observe how master storytellers pass on their skills, or you can dive right in and start developing your own talents.
This year’s featured storytellers:
+ Willie Claflin – Willy’s from California now, but he grew up in New Hampshire, which might explain why he travels with Maynard Moose. Maynard, you see, is the last known teller of Mother Moose Tales. Claflin, who has been a headliner at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., says his off-stage fame comes for “helping save endangered squeaking rubber animals.” His latest recording is “The Goat Whisperer.” Claflin’s the one with Harvard on his resume.
+ Mary Hamilton – Mary is a daughter of the Bluegrass State who tells Kentucky tales, world folk and fairy tales, legends “and even some true stories.” She’s widely known for teaching the storytelling art to teachers, librarians and speakers, and she’s appeared at festivals from Florida to Oregon. She obviously didn’t take to heart her third-grade teacher’s admonitions to always tell the truth.
+ Mountain Man Bob – Mountain Man Bob is Bob Phillips from Jonesborough, Tenn. He invented a musical instrument, the modie-harp, which you’ll quickly see is an unusual second use for a toilet seat and lid. Mountain Man Bob tells tales of his own invention, plus some rooted in Appalachian lore. He said he takes pride in the fact that all of his stories are true, “based on the remote possibility that there exists a slim chance of possible fact.”
The young storytellers at the Pigeon Forge festival are participants in the National Youth Storytelling Showcase. At least 15 students from various states are invited to perform. There are categories for grammar school, middle school and high school storytellers, plus a category for duos or groups.
All programs of the Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival will be at the Grand Majestic Theater. Tickets are $10 per day, or $25 for the weekend. The schedule offers morning workshops and afternoon and evening performances all three days. Late-night sessions with a $5 donation benefit the Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association.
Information about all aspects of visiting Pigeon Forge is available online at www.MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.
Tom Adkinson, APR