That is to say, after hosting the sixth annual Bold-Faced Liars’ Showdown, the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast has put Laurinburg on the map as a place for storytelling.
“Between this and the storytelling festival, people really know Laurinburg as a place for storytelling,” said SACS Director Jan Schmidt.
With this year’s edition of the Liars’ Showdown, which took place on Saturday at SACS’ downtown location, there were more talented storytelling performers than ever before, said Schmidt.
And with approximately 70 percent of the hundreds of attendees coming from out of town, downtown Laurinburg has at least shifted the storytelling epicenter a little bit closer to Main St.
“What happens is the performers come and see what a great place Laurinburg is to perform, and they share that with other storytellers and they know that they will be lucky to get to come,” Schmidt said.
With nearly 20 contestants traveling from as far as Oklahoma and as near as down the street, the talented group of performers was judged by a panel of three, featuring guest storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin of Virginia, Gwen Rainer of the SACS Board and UNC-Pembroke Professor Therese Rizzo.
The lone local participant in the story telling contest was Dave Wells, who works locally for WLNC radio. Wells charmed the crowd with tales of his hunting addiction and his three raccoon chasing hounds.
Winning both the overall contest as well as the “people’s choice” title was storyteller Amy Sayle of Carrboro. Starting with a tale of her space travel aspirations, Sayle led the audience through the story of one calamitous episode during her time working at the Morehead Planetarium, operating the facility’s space shows.
“The Liars’ Showdown was a wonderful opportunity and I am just so glad to have participated,” said Sayle, adding that she may try storytelling more often after finding success in Laurinburg.
Winning the “Story Slam” award was Maddie Hill, daughter of Sarah Belle Hill of Oklahoma, who also participated in the storytelling contest.
The day’s festivities were concluded with a series of stories from guest professional storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin of Virginia. Irwin told stories of his family and his time in Virginia.
Irwin also commented at the difficulty of judging the earlier competition.
“It was not easy being a judge. I’d rather be on the stage,” Irwin said.
Schmidt said that her only regret was that more locals were unable to see the show. “I feel as though people are missing out on so much, and I’m not sure why they don’t come. It’s just been a little bit hard getting the word out, especially with the restriction on signs in the city.”
What was clear from speaking to attendees was that word-of-mouth will always be at work promoting the event.
As attendees slowly left the SACS building Saturday evening, still smiling in recollection of the stories that were told, one visitor from South Carolina stop and took a long look back at the stage.
“I’m sorry that this is over,” said the man. “But we’ll be back next year.”