Stories abound this weekend at John Blue House

Storytelling festival this weekend

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — This weekend will mark the 10th annual Storytelling Festival of Carolina, which for nearly a decade has brought nationally-renowned yarn spinners to Scotland County.

The festival will open at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday on the grounds of the John Blue House for two days of fiction — in varieties both beyond belief and indistinguishable from truth.

The weekend will feature four headline storytellers: five-time West Virginia Liars’ Contest winner Bil Lepp, two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley, historical performer Sheila Arnold Jones of Hampton, Virginia, and Diane Ferlatte, whose stories of the African-American experience are informed in part by an early childhood spent listening to stories on the porch of her grandparents’ Louisiana home.

All four of the weekend’s featured storytellers have performed at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

“We look for people that are family-friendly and have mass appeal,” said Erin Rembert, executive director of Laurinburg’s Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast. We are able to bring the biggest talents in the country here using that formula. We kind of rotate who comes in and try to shake it up every year to give a variety of storytelling styles.”

The storytellers will also offer a series of workshops on Saturday on topics like”making the most of your mistakes” and “developing passion for literacy,” imparting educational tools to storytellers, parents, and teachers alike.

“The tellers are really good about picking their topics so that anybody sitting in the audience who wanted to have a little more one-on-one time can come in and learn a few tricks to use for speaking in their everyday life and teaching,” said Rembert.

Regional storyteller Martha Reed Johnson will also take the storytelling stage this weekend, as will Pamela Alberda and Jadie Fuson, winners of the storytelling center’s 2015 Bold Faced Liars’ Showdown.

The festival will also offer a children’s play area and a separate stage where amateur storytellers can test their skills on a smaller audience.

The festival will kick off on Friday night at the Storytelling and Arts Center with a 7 p.m. olio. The gathering will preview the weekend’s festival with a single story from each of the four featured storytellers. On Saturday, the center will host a storytelling gala, where festival attendees can mingle with the storytellers over light hors d’oeuvres and dessert.

Tickets to both events may be reserved in advance or may be purchased at the door at $10 for the olio and $20 for the gala.

The Storytelling Festival of Carolina is made possible with grants from the North Carolina Arts Council, The Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, and the generosity of many donors.

The weekend’s audiences are expected to be in the hundreds, though Rembert said that the crowd is rarely predictable.

“Most of our crowd comes from outside of the county, though we would love to have more local people. We have some kids, some older people. You can’t stereotype who’s going to be sitting in the crowd, because it is a wide variety of people who are interested in storytelling and who are interested in the arts and want to spent a beautiful day out at the John Blue House.”

The festival closes at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Single-day adult tickets are $25, or $69 for a family of up to five. Two-day tickets are $40 for adults and $85 for a family. Single-day tickets for children are $8. Tickets to Saturday’s workshops are $10.

For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit or call the Storytelling and Arts Center at 910-277-3599.
Storytelling festival this weekend

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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