DOWNS — Tall tales will be told in Downs next weekend.
Also tales of history, ghost stories and a night of improvisation April 27 and 28 at the 25th annual Kansas Storytelling Festival.
“We have just padded our programming with lots of extra celebratory things,” said festival coordinator Glennys Doane.
The event has grown throughout the years and now brings in recognized talent, she said.
“We’ve just always been committed to bring as fine a talent as we could possibly get, and now we find that we’re on the circuit with the national storytellers that are appearing in big cities across the nation,” she said.
The festival attracts people from Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and Oklahoma and other parts of the Midwest to the Osborne County town of 900.
On the schedule for the festival are some favorite performers from the past, Doane said — Bil Lepp, Kim Weitkamp, Andy Offut Irwin, Dino O’Dell and Pippa White.
Storytelling stages in town add to the festival feel as people move among the different locations, Doane said.
Each of the professional storytellers also will offer workshops throughout the festival. The workshops are eligible for college credit through a collaboration with Friends University.
“That has been particularly attractive to teachers and librarians that want to recertify and pick up some of those hours they need once in a while,” Doane said.
The workshops are open to all, however.
“Those workshops are particularly helpful for people that use storytelling every day like teachers, librarians, even pastors or businesspeople that want to put the right edge on the stories they tell,” Doan said.
Irwin will also offer workshops and assemblies across region in the days before the festival, telling stories to children and teaching storytelling techniques to teachers.
A popular event during the festival is the Tall Tale Contest the night of April 27. A preliminary contest is conducted in October to select the four finalists. This year, Sherry Adams Dodson, Keyta Kelly, Jim Lee and Vivian Ross will compete for the traveling trophy, the storytelling shovel.
Also popular is the Downs Legends — portrayals of early residents of Osborne County, including frontiersman and wildlife preservationist Jesse “Buffalo” Jones, homesteader Howard Herman Ruede, America’s first female war correspondent Elsie Reasoner Ralph and Sarah Jane, a tribute to women homesteaders. They will perform both days.
The festival will conclude with a joint story “concert” with the Irwin, Lepp and Weitkamp, with the storytellers taking suggestions from the audience, Doane said.