Storytelling is an art. Storytellers perfect their craft just as a seamstress improves with each garment that she sews. Just as a patron walks away with a painting to display in his home, each member of the audience takes home a memory, a memory to keep inside and play in their mind’s eye. Or to share with others who appreciate a good story. Maybe it’s the tale of a man’s life, a child’s toy or a lost love. Whatever sparks the interest can vary from listener to listener. Storytelling is not only an audio experience; it’s visual, as well.
Storytelling is a legacy. It’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s especially precious to the people of the Upper Cumberland, rich in history and passed down from generation to generation.
The Cumberland Mountain Storytelling Guild and the Performing Arts Alliance of Rural Tennessee (PAART) have entertained audiences and held storytelling workshops during their fall fest for the past four years. The Fifth Annual Cumberland Mountain Storytelling Festival will be held at the Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville on Nov. 1 and 2. There is a special price package for those who want to attend both days, including the workshops. The theme for this year is “Funny Stories.”
This year’s lineup features four professional performers from Nashville, Elizabethton and Virginia, plus several amateurs from the local society and the East Tennessee State University Storytelling Program. The event starts with the Friday night kickoff at 7 p.m. with an evening with author, poet, artist and songwriter Minton Sparks. Her Southern characters are brought to life with her rhythmic voice and expressive body language.
The event includes two Saturday workshops; one for high school teens by Kim Weitkamp (free of charge), and Minton Sparks’ for adults ($20 per person—to be paid to her directly at the seminar). Both are at 10 a.m.
Saturday evening is reserved for performances by Kim Weitkamp, Keith Young and Elizabeth Rose. Weitkamp’s voice has been described by many critics as “smooth as honey” and “sweet and gentle.” Young is from Northeast State Technical Community College; he has been a guest storyteller for the festival in the past. Rose is a captivating tale spinner who uses imagery to capture her audience’s imagination.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.palacetheatre-crossville.com or by calling 931-484-6133. The festival is made possible in conjunction with the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Performing Arts Alliance of Rural Tennessee and the Cumberland Mountain Storytelling Guild. The historic theater is located at 72 S. Main in downtown Crossville.