More than 1,000 lovers of fables, tall tales, and yarns are expected to descend upon the John Blue House grounds for three days during the Storytelling Festival of Carolina later this month.
The seventh annual festival, sponsored and organized by the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast, will be held from March 21-23, beginning with a day especially for elementary, middle, and high school students.
The event will kick off officially with an olio at 7:30 p.m. on March 21 at the storytelling center, where all of the storytellers featured throughout the weekend will provide short performances. Tickets to the olio are $5, and must be reserved in advance.
The year’s featured tellers are Willie Claflin, the Rev. Robert Jones, Barbara McBride-Smith, and perennial favorite Bil Lepp.
“Everybody loves Bil so we try to bring him back every other year; he’s one of people’s favorites here,” said Jan Schmidt, executive director of the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast.
The John Blue House grounds will open at 8:30 a.m. on March 22 and 23, with the day of storytelling beginning at 9:30 a.m. In addition to the featured tellers, Laurinburg resident Gwen Rainer will also perform in the Tartan Tent.
Schmidt said that this year’s selection of tellers were handpicked for the humor they bring to their narrations. The Rev. Robert Jones is also a bluegrass musician, who incorporates that medium into his storytelling.
“We look for tellers who have performed on a national stage,” she said. “We try to look for tellers that meet the personalities that people have liked in the past. People seem to like to have a lot of humor, so we try to do that, and our tellers this year are really funny- people will do a lot of laughing.”
Performances will be offered in one-hour blocks, with half-hour breaks between them in which festival attendees can sign up to tell their own stories. There will also be a selection of food and craft vendors on the grounds.
On the evening of March 22, a music and storytelling gala will be held at the storytelling center, where aspiring tellers and admirers of storytelling can meet the weekend’s talent.
Admission to the festival for both March 22 and 23 is $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and military, and $10 for children. The cost for either Friday or Saturday is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and military, and $7 for children. Admission to the “Meet the Tellers” gala is $20 for adults and $10 for children.
Reservations for the March 22 and 23 may be made online at sfoc.info until noon on March 19, by phone at 506-203 until noon on March 20. Tickets may also be purchased at the festival.