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National Storytelling Festival
17 Dec 2013
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The National Storytelling Festival, produced by the International Storytelling Center, is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious storytelling event in the world, and one that ignited the modern-day storytelling revival in America.

In our age of fast-moving technology, it seems unlikely that thousands of audience members could spend a weekend mesmerized by the voices of storytellers. But that’s exactly what happens in Jonesborough, Tennessee, every year during the first weekend in October.

The National Storytelling Festival began in 1973 when 60 people came to hear a few Appalachian tales from the back of a hay wagon parked beside the town courthouse. In the decades since, those 60 people have grown to more than 10,000, and the hay wagon has been replaced by large, circus-like tents raised throughout the town. Those first mountain tales are now juxtaposed with an array of traditional, personal and contemporary stories from around the globe, spiked with the flair of poetry, blues, and ballads. The Festival encompasses a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles – a world of stories within one, historic town.

In venues ranging from an intimate theater setting to tents that seat 1500, festival attendees are treated to compelling performances from over 30 world-class tellers. These audience members include people from all walks of life, from all over the world.

The festival has an annual economic impact of $7 million in the region, which generates 111 jobs. Called “the leading event of its kind in America” by USA Today, the festival has been featured in publications such as Smithsonian Magazine, Reader’s Digest, People Magazine, Southern Living, and the New York Times, and been covered by multiple major media outlets such as PBS, CBS, and NPR. Awards include Travelocity’s Local Secrets, Big Finds, Southern Living’s Favorite Spots in the South, and ABA’s Top 100 Events in North America.

As people the world over have rediscovered the simplicity and basic truth of a well-told tale, the Festival has become the flagship of a national movement that celebrates the rich history of American storytelling and the talebearers who share their stories. Its impact on storytelling as a major art form is acknowledged worldwide.  And its impact on a small, rural town – now known as the storytelling capital of the world – is equally significant. The Los Angeles Times writes: ”What New Orleans is to jazz. . . Jonesborough is to storytelling.”

The town of Jonesborough is tucked away near the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Tennessee’s oldest town offers historic charm and small-town hospitality – a storybook setting for three days of storytelling festivities. This picturesque place is where the storytelling revival began, and where thousands return each year for the time-honored tradition of hearing – and sharing – stories at the National Storytelling Festival.

For more information about the National Storytelling Festival, visit www.storytellingcenter.net/festival/ or the International Storytelling Center’s website: www.storytellingcenter.net.

This event is featured on the Year of the Rural Arts Calendar of Events. For more information on the Year of the Rural Arts, visit www.artoftherural.org

Fiction Non-Fiction Culture Local Rural - International Festival/Celebration Appalachia Southeast Writer rural storytelling yora
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