Thursday, May 28, 2009

Storytellers Gather in Pigeon Forge-Storytelling Festival June 4-6,2009

Storytellers Galore Ready to Spin Yarns at Pigeon Forge Festival Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival promises three days of tall tales June 4-6


Expect truth to be in short supply June 4-6 at the 18th Annual Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., but also expect a counterbalancing dose of entertainment, enchantment and, dare we say, education.

You’ll hear from a genuine possumologist, a keeper of Cherokee creation stories, a middle school principal who uses storytelling in the classroom and a cowboy poet whose Oklahoma retelling of “Ben Hur” inspires him to wear a watermelon and a bra on stage. (It’s something you just have to see to understand.)

In addition to the festival’s world-traveling, professional storytellers, you’ll also hear some of America’s budding tale-telling talent at the National Youth Storytelling Showcase. The showcase has attracted youngsters, none older than 17, from as far away as Utah, Texas, Maryland and Florida.

Many of this year’s storytellers will focus on stories that relate to Appalachia and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. That’s one reason the festival is on the official calendar of the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The festival also is on the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” list for the fifth year in a row.

Three late-night programs (9:30-11 p.m.) augment the regular sessions. A Haunts and Haints ghost story session is Thursday, a tribute to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Friday and a memorial to legendary mountain storyteller Ray Hicks is Saturday.

The Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival is co-hosted by the City of Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association.

Featured storytellers:

+ Lloyd Arneach—A Cherokee storyteller who learned his first legends from two storytelling uncles on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.

+ Donald Davis—A native Appalachian storyteller who performs nationally and teaches workshop that focus on family-based storytelling.

+ Doug Elliott—A storyteller, herbalist and naturalist who sings about catfish, pontificates about possums and plays a mean harmonica.

+ Todd Elliott—Doug’s son and a two-time participant in the National Youth Storytelling Showcase who now is following in his father’s footsteps.

+ Andy Offutt Irwin—A Georgia public radio show host who says he used to have real jobs before becoming a professional storyteller.

+ Kent Rollins—A genuine cowboy from Oklahoma, who also is a poet, chuckwagon cook and humorist (he’s the one with the watermelon and bra).

+ Elizabeth Rose—Principal of Cherokee Middle School in Roane County, Tenn., who blends southern folklore with fairy tales, ghost stories and international legends.

If You Go:The Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival is June 4-6 (Thursday-Saturday). All sessions—concerts, the youth performances and workshops in which you can learn storytelling skills—are at the Belz Outlet Mall in Pigeon Forge.

Admission for the entire weekend is $25, and one-day admission is $10 for everyone age 18 and older (free for age 17 and younger). The three late-night programs are $5. T

he festival schedule is at <> , and complete visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available at <> or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.

About Pigeon ForgePigeon Forge, located in East Tennessee near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of the country’s top tourism destinations, drawing more than 10 million visitors each year.

With more than 40 family-friendly attractions along its five-mile Parkway, Pigeon Forge offers family fun for all ages. The destination city is located within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population east of the Mississippi River.