With the help of dozens of volunteers, the Storytelling Festival of Carolina is set to open to the public tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast on Main Street in Laurinburg.
As many as 75 volunteers will assist with both the preparation and execution of the event, which is expected to draw up to 2500 people over the course of the weekend.
“There are individuals who started volunteering six years ago and who still help out,” said event organizer Jan Schmidt.
“People come from all over to help out.”
Among those volunteering this year are the St. Andrews University wrestling team and the Scotland County Partnership for Children and Families.
“The SHS program (Little Scots) will also be helping watch after young children, with adult supervision,” added Schmidt.
The event, which is made possible by donations as well as grants from area organizations, “would not be possible without the help (of volunteers)” said Brenda Gilbert, another of the festival’s organizers and Storytelling and Arts Center Board Chair.
While area students will attend the festival throughout the day on Thursday, the event will not open to the public until Thursday night, during an olio program featuring a sampling of stories from participating storytellers.
The festival, in its sixth year, will feature nationally renowned storytellers and published authors, including humorists Donald Davis and Doug Elliot, Native America storytellers Gene Tagaban and the Asian theatre of Eth-Noh-Tec, and a number of other performers.
On Friday morning, the event kicks off in earnest on the grounds of the John Blue House, starting with a one-hour storytelling session at 9:30 a.m. Sessions will continue all day until 5 p.m., only stopping for half-hour breaks between sessions and for lunch from noon until 1 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
During the breaks members of the public are invited to tell stories of their own at the “Sharing Place,” located on the John Blue House’s concert stage.
Over twenty food and crafts vendors will be on the grounds, with more crafts vendors than ever committed to attend.
There will also be a special storytelling gala on Friday evening at the Storytelling and Arts Center taking place from 7:30 until 10:30.
“The gala is going to be a big deal,” said Schmidt, adding that she expects festival patrons to come from all over North Carolina and the Southeast.
Different from years past, the 2012 iteration of the festival will feature a special Sunday morning nature walk featuring storyteller Doug Elliott, who will comment on the area’s plant and wildlife during the walk.
“We’ll check out the many edible, medicinal and other wise useful plants,” said Elliott.
“You will hear stories, songs and lore as well as facts stranger-than-fiction about the plants and critters we encounter.”
Tickets for tonight’s event must be reserved in advance for $5.
Grounds open to the public at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
For information visit the festival website at http://sfoc.info/ or call 277-3599.