Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Teller's Tale - The National Storytelling Festival 2017

By: Madeline L Pots

I arrived in Jonesborough on Thursday afternoon. I have been to this festival many times, but this year I was an invited teller.  I was scheduled to perform at Exchange Place, a concert that featured six tellers new to the national stage.  It put me on the inside of the festival, close up to all those tellers I had admired from the depths of those huge festival tents that are scattered about the tiny town of Jonesborough, TN.  At a welcome dinner for all the tellers, I sat surrounded by all my storytelling idols.  I had to keep myself in check to not appear like a star-struck fan.  If there is a hog heaven for tellers – that was it.

The festival was amazing.  I saw Elizabeth Ellis take the stage with just a few days’ notice.  She was filling in for David Holt who had a pinched nerve.   She told a beautiful and long story, flawlessly.
Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Bil Lepp, Andy Offutt Irwin, Geraldine  Buckley…  the list of my favorite famous tellers went on and on.   And then there were tellers I had heard for the first time the previous year, like Doug Elliott whose stories reveal his profound respect for all nature.  I was so happy to listen to him again.  There were new discoveries -   Josh  Goforth whose musical talent and love of family touched me through and through … and Caludia  Schmidt with energy that took my breath away.  An amazing cast of storytellers presented every style of telling I could imagine … and then some!

Jonesborough in October is a magical place.  The leaves are just starting to turn and the town is decked out for the fall holidays.   The lineup of tellers is beyond impressive.  The people are friendly and the climate is a refreshing change from our endless Florida summer.

I offer this suggestion:  Go to the National Storytelling Festival.   Put it on your calendar and make the trip happen.  And oh yes, bring a cushion to sit on because the stories go from morning to night ….

And BTW, my story went well.


  1. I enjoyed your story at the festival. I would add Vicki Juditz to the list of wonderful tellers that I heard fir the first time at the festival. Her session with Bil Lepp Sunday morning was one of the most powerful hour's storytelling I have ever heard. Their stories dovetailed in a wonderful way.

  2. A most enjoyable story, beautifully crafted, flawlessly told!
    Bravo, Madeline!